Grace Burnett shattered the individual fundraising record to win the title of Miss Cinderella on Saturday night in the Arlington Convention Center Grand Ballroom.
The Oakridge School junior raised $254,755, the most ever raised by a candidate in the 56 years of the Cinderella Charity Ball.
More than 1,500 guests were on hand to see the 20 high school girls vying for the title of Miss Cinderella introduced in a formal ceremony. The crowd was hushed as master of ceremonies Jimmy Bennett announced that this year’s ball raised a grand total of $800,002 and elevated the 56-year cumulative earnings of the ball to a $10 million milestone.
Produced by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington, the ball is the oldest continuing charitable and social event in Arlington. All funds raised go for capital improvements for the youth agency as well as support the programs and services that the nonprofit provides to more than 5,000 disadvantaged children.
“I would like to thank the women of 1961 who had the vision to begin the Cinderella Ball,” Ladies Auxiliary President LouAnn O’Donnell said. “I would like to thank all the women of the Ladies Auxiliary throughout the years who have worked to make it a continuous success. This is an amazing legacy of which I am proud to be a part.”
The event is the culmination of a seven-week campaign in which the candidates canvass the community seeking donations. The student raising the most wins the title.
First runner-up was Kyndal Wade, a Lamar High School junior and the daughter of Kay and Jim Wade. Second, third and fourth runners-up respectively were Anna Kate Broadus, Kyndall Bertrand and Whitney Gerro.
In a separate competition, three candidates were awarded college scholarships based on scholastic achievement, extracurricular involvement and letters of recommendation. Cameron Watson won the Catherine Lautzenheiser Memorial Scholarship of $1,500. Burnett and Broadus were awarded $1,000 and $750 respectively.
Broadus received additional recognition when she was named the recipient of the Carol H. Zimmer Award, presented in honor of longtime Ladies Auxiliary member Carol Zimmer, who died in 2013.
Burnett, 17, is the daughter of Karen and Jim Burnett and is active at Oakridge, where she is a varsity cheerleader, field hockey player, made the Headmaster’s List for academic achievement and sings in the choir. She was crowned by the reigning Miss Cinderella, Riley Mohorc.
Bennett introduced each candidate as she descended the signature spiral staircase in a white formal gown to be escorted along the runway by her dad before taking a deep bow on stage.
“This year’s Cinderella candidates surpassed all of our hopes and expectations, and they were delightful to work with,” said Dawn Serman, who co-chaired the ball with Trisha Barling. “They were clearly dedicated to raising as much money for the Boys & Girls Clubs as possible and will be a blessing to the children at the clubs for years to come.”
Last year’s ball raised around $508,000. The previous record was set by the 2014 ball when candidates raised more than $823,000.
Other 2016 Cinderella candidates were Kenedi Bick, Kate Darden, Grace Donaldson, Emily Dondero, Addie Fields, Katherine Griffith, Starr Harrison, Claire McKibben, Madison Moore, Skylar Ollivierre, Kamila Pompa, Lyndsey Walker, Lindsey Wurm and Madison Zick.