Benefits of Laughter Raises $1.1 Million In Support of Mental Health Treatment

ATLANTA – On Thursday, October 17, 2019, more than 500 guests attended Benefits of Laughter at the St Regis Atlanta, raising more than $1.1 million for mental health treatment services at Skyland Trail. The $1.1 million—the most raised in the history of the signature Skyland Trail fundraising event—will support essential therapeutic programs, family support services, and financial aid to help clients access and complete mental health treatment at Skyland Trail.

Pictured left to right: Beth Finnerty, President and CEO of Skyland Trail, with Event Co-Chairs Jim and Kristin Howard.

“In its history, Benefits of Laughter has raised nearly $14 million dollars to help individuals receive world-class psychiatric treatment at Skyland Trail,” says Beth Finnerty, president and CEO. “It is thrilling to break the $1 million mark in Skyland Trail’s 30th anniversary year. I am continually awed and inspired by the passion and dedication of a community that has made hope possible for so many individuals struggling with mental illness.”

The event was led by volunteer event chairs Kristin and Jim Howard.

“We have seen lives changed through participation in the transformative treatment programs at Skyland Trail,” says event chair Jim Howard.

Kristin Howard adds, “We are grateful to the generous sponsors who demonstrate their support for mental health by being a part of this event and the Skyland Trail community.”

As part of the program, Sharon S., a Skyland Trail graduate, shared her personal story. Just a few years ago, Sharon enrolled in the psychiatric adult residential program to treat her diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

“When I first went in, we weren’t even sure if I could live on my own again,” says Skyland Trail graduate Sharon.

Today, Sharon is a university student studying radiology and works part-time at a coffee shop.

“Recovery really is possible, and I think there’s a community that’s needed when you’re in a difficult place,” says Sharon. “Skyland provided that.”  

Guest enjoyed a performance by Emmy winner and Grammy nominee Wayne Brady as part of the show. Brady is best known for his roles on the improv television show Whose Line Is It Anyway and CBS’s Let’s Make A Deal. Brady has also performed in the Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots on Broadway and starred as Aaron Burr in the award-winning Broadway show Hamilton in Chicago, among other roles in television shows like 30 Rock, Everybody Loves Chris, Dirt, and How I Met Your Mother.

Wayne Brady performing at Benefits of Laughter with the help of a volunteer from the audience.
Wayne Brady performing at Benefits of Laughter with the help of a volunteer from the audience.

Support from the community was led by presenting sponsor the Isdell Family Foundation and diamond sponsors, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, and Betsy and Mark West. Platinum sponsors included Atlanta Fine Homes | Sotheby’s International, the J.B. Fuqua Foundation, the Glenn Family, Kristin and Jim Howard, Beth and Don Inman, INVESCO, Edwina and Tom Johnson, Rebecca and Patrick O’Connor, Donna and Stan Sands, and Sara and Tom Shlesinger. Gold sponsors included Angel Oak Capital Advisors, Jennifer and Tom Bell, Mary and John Brock, Duvall and Rex Fuqua, Lorre and George Gaudiosi, Global Payments, Anne and Berny Gray, Holder Construction Company, IBERIABANK, ICE (Intercontinental Exchange), Jet Linx, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Carla Knobloch, Amy and Nevin Kreisler, Kelly Loeffler and Jeff Sprecher, MONTAG, Anna and Richard Paré, Karen and Richard Parker, Patty and Doug Reid, Renasant Bank, Lou and Blanton Winship, and ZWJ Investment Counsel.

Patron committee chairs Anna and Richard Paré led outreach to individual supporters. Corporate committee chair, Michelle Sullivan, and members of the volunteer corporate committee helped secure contributions from the business and professional communities.

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 and adolescents ages 14 to 17 with depression, anxiety disorders, and OCD.