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Skyland Trail Celebrates 20 Years of Benefits of Laughter

October 26, 2017

Atlanta, GA – On Thursday, October 19, 2017, Skyland Trail held its signature fundraising event, Benefits of Laughter, at The St. Regis Atlanta. Led by event chairs Jane and Clay Jackson, the event welcomed more than 500 guests and raised more than $825,000, which will support financial assistance and therapeutic programs at Skyland Trail.

The event marked the 20th annual Benefits of Laughter. As part of the celebration, past Benefits of Laughter chairs, starting with Beth Jones, were recognized, and Beth Finnerty, Skyland Trail president & CEO, shared the cumulative impact of the event on Skyland Trail clients and families.

“Over the last 20 years, Benefits of Laughter has raised more than $11 million dollars to support Skyland Trail,” says Finnerty. “Most of those dollars have been applied directly to financial aid scholarships. In fact, since 1999, we’ve awarded financial aid to more than 1,100 clients across all our programs and services.”

As part of the program, a Skyland Trail graduate shared her personal story of living with a mental illness and how treatment at Skyland Trail helped her heal and recover. And, proving that laughter often is the best medicine, guests enjoyed a comedic performance by Nate Bargatze.

Bargatze has appeared on many nighttime talk shows, including: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Conan. He currently appears on Netflix in The Standups Comedy Special. His first comedy album, Yelled At By A Clown, made it to number two on Billboard Top Ten Comedy, and his most recent special, Full Time Magic, made it to number one.

Support from the community was led by leadership sponsor ZWJ Investment Counsel. Diamond corporate sponsors for the event were Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty and Delta Air Lines.

Gold corporate sponsors included Angel Oak Companies; BrandBank; BNY Mellon Wealth Management; The Brookdale Group; Holder Construction; iBERIABANK; Intercontinental Exchange (ICE); Jet Linx; Masters Capital Management, LLC; MONTAG; and Voices of Hope, Inc.

Silver corporate sponsors included Atlantic American Corporation; BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina; CBRE; Crawford Investment Counsel; Emory Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Eversheds Sutherland; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Gray Television, Inc.; Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Hennessy Automobile Companies; Houlihan Lokey; JPMorgan Chase Bank; Kalka & Baer; Printpack; Regions Bank; Russell Reynolds Associates; Shiver Hamilton, LLC; and Wells Fargo Bank.

Corporate committee chair, Andy Stull, and members of the volunteer corporate committee were instrumental in securing significant contributions from the business and professional communities. Patron committee chairs Christine and Bill Ragland led outreach to individual supporters.
Skyland Trail is a nonprofit mental health treatment organization that offers residential and day treatment programs for adults ages 18 and older struggling with mood, thought, and anxiety disorders.

##### Photography by Lee Patterson and Kim Link