WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Girl’s Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW) received a $1 million donation at its annual Celebrity Chef event Friday night.

Ken Lowe, one of the early funders of GLOW, who works with academy founder Judy Girard, gifted the money in honor of his 92-year-old mother and a wing of the school will be named in her honor.

At the event Friday night, held on the campus of the academy in Wilmington, around 500 guests were served an elegant dinner prepared by famous chefs, including Robert Irvine.

“The school is such an amazing adventure,” said Irvine. We’re bringing 400 girls to become great leaders. You know, GLOW is all about leadership with young ladies and we’re doing a big fundraiser tonight. I get to cook with a few of my friends.”

The school hosts the fundraiser every year, but academy founder Judy Girard says this year’s event is even more special given the circumstances the students and faculty members have endured throughout the pandemic.

“Every year we do one of these and this one seems extra special because I think it’s the first time people are getting out,” said Girard. “This is 500 people eating outdoors here and celebrating, and celebrating the girls.”

Before dinner hit the plate, some students in attendance got the chance to go viral by recording a Q&A session with Irvine, with the plan for it to be posted on TikTok.

This was not just a chance for GLOW’s students to go viral and wind up on your “For You Page,” they used the discussion as a chance to learn more about Irvine’s career and what made him so successful.

“They love to ask questions about people’s careers,” said Girard. “They just asked Robert ‘Why food? How does food play into your world?’ and it’s not just about writing a recipe, cooking, and eating it, and they get that.”

The students are happy to be part of a unique learning experience, something they say the school has prepared them for over the course of the past year.

“I feel like the teachers really did try their best to make everything possible even though COVID was a thing and affecting everybody so differently,” said GLOW Academy student Rosa Johnson.

Friday, the students were excited to have fun with a famous chef and enjoy a fun evening before heading home for the summer.

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