The postponed fundraiser was expected to change from its original date in 2020.
Through Allison Joyner
The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic trip The cruise has sailed again after postponing the “party with a purpose” due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Passengers aboard the Tom Joyner Foundation’s Fantastic Voyage 20 in 21 cruise.
Credit: Allison Joyner
Earlier this month, passengers boarded the Carnival Freedom for eight days of fun, sun and party until the wee hours of the morning.
Since 2000, the Tom Joyner Foundation, founded by a retired radio host, the president of the Foundation and my uncle, Tom joyner, sailed the Caribbean to raise funds to keep students enrolled in historically black colleges and universities, including all ten Georgian institutions like Paine College, Savannah State University, Albany State University, and schools located in the Atlanta University Center.
This year Fantastic trip 20 of 21 featured live entertainment, an art gallery filled with work by black artists, and cooking demonstrations and tastings from celebrity chefs throughout the trip.
Vaccinated passengers who joined the party attended over 40 concerts including rapper LL Cool J, R&B singer / songwriter Alicia Keys, Usher from Atlanta and a The kings of Crunk concert featuring local artists The Eastside Boyz, Young Bloodz, the Ying Yang Twins and D4L.
Johnny “Koolout” Starks, who has been on the events team since 2004, said: “The Tom Joyner Fantastic trip is whatever you want our culture to be. Education, community, fundraising, entrepreneurship, camaraderie and of course partying.
Reschedule the party
“I have been able to do this for so many years,” Joyner said. “This year is extra special because we had to go through the pandemic and be postponed. “
The Tom Joyner Foundation supports the HBCUs with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building upgrades to keep students enrolled in school and preserve the part of American history that the HBCUs represent.
Through fundraising efforts, the Foundation has raised over $ 69 million, supporting over 32,000 students attending HBCUs.
As Covid continued to spread across the country and around the world in early 2020, the Foundation, along with the media conglomerate Reaching out to the media and Carnival Cruise Line decided to delay the trip until it was deemed safe to sail again.
Joyner, who suffered a mild stroke at his South Florida home shortly after the original date, said the cruise produced more than 95% of annual funds to keep its mission alive.
“This has been more of a challenge than other cruises because of the pandemic,” said Joyner, who distributed refunds to passengers who chose not to go on the rescheduled cruise.
“The Foundation does much more to not only help HBCUs survive, but also to keep students in college who might not otherwise have been able to stay; it’s a more important element, ”said David Kantor, President and CEO of Radio One and Reach Media, and Tom’s business partner.
“I think a lot of people were probably disappointed and then we just had to make adjustments.” Starks said: “I knew that once we passed [the pandemic] that it would resume.
Department of Homeland Security immigration officer Veronica Clay attended or paid to attend all 21 cruises.
“I’ve been rocking with Tom since day one,” she said SaportaReport. “I was not disappointed because I was thinking about the safety of others as well as myself. So I knew it was for everyone’s safety and to do it in 2021, when we’re a little bit safer after the vaccines come out. “
Ensuring the safety of the party
With the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) providing strict recommendations When traveling on cruise ships, the safety of passengers and crew was an important concern and a focal point when preparing for the Fantastic trip.
“Like around the world and with many businesses, every element of our operations has had to be looked at,” said Ann Sedgwick, vice president of charter, corporate and incentive sales for Carnival Cruise Line. . “This gave our teams the time to plan and adapt to the ever-changing protocols as defined by the CDC. ”
When Kantor began renegotiating planning for this year’s cruise, he was aware of Carnival’s new policy of only sailing with 50% capacity on board to keep people safe. Still, the two sides agreed to keep the 70 percent chartered cruise instead.
“The way we did it was people we intentionally left off the cruise. Some people had reasons why they couldn’t get the vaccine so they couldn’t take the cruise, ”Kantor said. “We have always wanted [all of the passengers] be vaccinated. We felt that the passengers, especially many of them who are older with health issues, would feel better on the ship if we did this. “
Sedgwick said the Carnival Freedom crew “are fully vaccinated and must wear masks at all times and are tested regularly.” She also said passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure and have also been asked to wear masks indoors, including elevators and dining rooms until they leave. ‘they are seated.
“I take my hat off at the carnival,” Starks said. “They have people cleaning around the clock, you walk around the dining rooms ‘put on your mask’, and people are in charge and put on their masks.”
He continued, “I think they’re doing exactly what they need to do to protect you. This virus has its own mind and even if we do the right things it doesn’t care. “
Sponsor the party
In addition to the revenue from the cabins sold, sponsorship was higher this year than in previous years. Main sponsorship of companies like Carnival and Denny’s contributed to fundraising for students.
Denny’s Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion April Kelly-Drummond said the quick-service restaurant is happy with and enjoys the 20-plus-year relationship with the Foundation. be a major sponsor of the cruise.
“Denny’s is proud of the Fantastic trip since 2019 and we know the purpose of the cruise is to raise money to help HBCU students, ”said Kelly-Drummond.
Sedgwick said Carnival has also sponsored the cruise for almost 10 years and that “the Foundation is focused on securing the future of historically black colleges and universities to support various academic opportunities for students wishing to and / or attending HBCUs. , whatever their socio-economic status and their means. “
“We have partnered with the Foundation,” said Kelly-Drummond, “because we share the values of investing in education,” and we have even partnered with the Foundation on Denny’s. Hungry for Education scholarship program which helps students achieve their dreams through financial aid.
HBCU enjoying the party
Although the Foundation has raised millions of dollars for HBCUs, they know the need is greater than ever.
“Tom Joyner is the only person I know who actually supports HBCUs,” Clay said. “It’s a great fundraiser to keep our kids in historically black colleges. “
Kantor acknowledges the large donations made to black institutions by philanthropists Makenzie Scott and Michael Bloomberg, but knows more is needed.
“It puts them in a better position, but until that, they were losing funds every day, every year, and more and more are in danger,” Kantor said.
“We know these scholarships make a difference in the lives of each of these students, which is more of the reason we reward them financially,” said Kelly-Drummond.
She added that Denny’s support for HBCUs starts at the top. Family restaurant CEO John Miller sits on the board of directors of Wilberforce University in Ohio and would be the first to tell you that Denny’s loves nurturing the mind, body and soul.
Drummond says that Denny’s efforts to hire more than 20,000 future employees by leveraging relationships with HBCUs, the National Urban League, the National Hispanic MBA Society and the Tom Joyner Foundation.
Starks agrees that these institutions need more funding to maintain themselves and added, “HBCUs are important. They are like baking yeast. The cake cannot rise without yeast.
Continue the party
Now that the Fantastic trip 20 of 21 has landed on solid ground, people are ready to enjoy the next fundraiser in a covid-free world. They are also worried that the same cruising appeal will continue now that Joyner is off the air. Tom Joyner’s morning show.
Both Kantor and Joyner have confirmed that the cruise will be back to sea and the planning process will begin soon to make that happen.
“If we did it would be late in the year  or whether we’ll wait and do it in the spring of 2023, Kantor said.
Sedgwick said Carnival has yet to hear of an announcement from Reach Media or the Foundation, but said “Carnival certainly hopes to have the opportunity to host the cruise again.”
Until then, the Tom Joyner Foundation continues to accept donations.
They give donors the opportunity to give their favorite HBCU for the end of the year gifts.
To make a contribution, log on to its website.
Editor’s note: Allison Joyner is Tom Joyner’s niece