Attorney General Ashley Moody will join two legends of the golf world, all-time great player Jack Nicklaus and pro golfer turned analyst Paul Azinger, at a gala next week to fight human trafficking in Florida.
Moody is to deliver the keynote speech Sept. 9 at “A Night of Hope and Healing.” The gala, to be held at Armature Works in Tampa, is the inaugural fundraising event for nonprofit Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking.
Moody, who on Wednesday filed for reelection as Florida’s top cop, is chair of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. During the first wave of COVID-19 through Florida, she urged residents and law enforcement agencies throughout the state to remain vigilant against the crime.
More recently, she encouraged people to attend the 2021 Human Trafficking Summit, a free virtual symposium set to take place Oct. 5.
“Human trafficking will not be eliminated if we all work as individual units — we must unite in Florida and throughout our great country,” she said.
Niklaus — nicknamed “The Golden Bear” and widely considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, golfers of all time — and his wife, Barbara Niklaus, will attend the gala as special guests. In 2004, the couple founded the nonprofit Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which has raised more than $125 million to advance pediatric initiatives and support hospital systems including Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Miami Children’s Health System.
Azinger, a 12-time PGA Tour winner and the current lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, is to co-chair the gala with his wife and Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking board member Toni Azinger, Vice Chair Sara Mahoney and her husband, Kieran Mahoney, the managing partner of Tampa-based public strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs.
The $200-per-ticket gala, a business and cocktail attire event, is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception and cocktails. Dinner is set for 7 p.m.
Sponsorships levels for the event range from a $1,000 “Friend Partner” donation to a $50,000 “Summit Partner.”
The Florida Legislature created the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking in 2019 to fund, support and assist statewide efforts to combat a growing, worldwide problem that sees 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders yearly, according to the federally funded National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
Other Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking board members include Chair Ellyn Bogdanoff, a former Florida Senator; Treasurer Savannah Parvu, a human trafficking survivor and public speaker; Secretary Philip Toal, a Florida-licensed mental health counselor who serves on Moody’s Statewide Counsel on Human Trafficking; former Florida Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen; Florida Sen. Ileana Garcia; philanthropist and children’s welfare champion Graci McGillicuddy; Florida Rep. Toby Overdorf; Special Agent in Charge Shane Pollard of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Stephanie Smith, senior director of government relations for health insurance provider Anthem; and retired Pasco County police officer Alan Wilkett.
The group’s executive director is Erin Collins, whose past government work in Florida includes stints under Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Governor and current U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.