In 2011, a 15-year-old girl from America visited Londolozi and fell in love. An excerpt from one of her essays reads:
“One night (this was a night that really changed me) all of the staff at a wildlife reserve came out and performed traditional dances and songs, and also invited us to join in. Later that night we found one song we all knew regardless of the languages we spoke. The song was ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ from The Lion King. This experience made me realize that everyone, no matter your age, race or gender, is connected. This connection is what makes Africa so special to me. My parents say that we will go back to Africa sometime or another. This place is special in my heart and I would give anything to go back; I’m even thinking I might want to work as a missionary there when I get older. Until then, all I have are memories – ones that will definitely last a lifetime.” – Leanna Knopik
One year later she was gone, taken from this world too early when, after a long and brave fight, she succumbed to a rare heart infection.
Today, Leanna Knopik’s legacy is the stuff dreams are made of. Not only was she already loved in her community for her abundance, love and generosity, but Leanna is now the beautiful spirit behind the world’s most coveted safari. This is a safari that takes place in the unlikeliest of places: the Michaels on East ballroom in Sarasota, Florida.
Every second year, people from across the US (and beyond) make the pilgrimage to the AAA four-diamond award restaurant on the south-western coast of Florida for Safari Sarasota, a one night, Londolozi-inspired interactive cooking event and auction that blows the roof off ordinary fundraisers.
At the 2015 event, well over $100,000 was raised for digital education in Africa, making Safari Sarasota the most valuable single-night safari in the world.
The impact of $100,000 in South Africa cannot be overstated. In 2015, the full amount raised at Safari Sarasota was transferred to Londolozi’s non-profit partner, the award-winning Good Work Foundation (GWF).
With the proceeds GWF was able to expand its digital learning campus model so that today 5 678 children and 239 adults have access to digital education across four digital learning campuses. In fact, thanks in no small part to the $100,000 Safari, GWF is now the leader in education delivery in the communities surrounding the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and is set to open three more digital learning campuses between now and 2019.
This story is probably not what you were expecting when you read about the $100,000 Safari. We hope it’s so much more. If nothing else we are humbled that Leanna discovered a calling in South Africa and that the words laid down on paper have so magically lifted off the page, energizing like-minded communities to collaborate for good. As Margaret Meade once said: “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Thank you Leanna!
If you would like to attend Safari Sarasota, taking place on 2 November, there are still sponsorships and tickets available. The event will be co-hosted by Londolozi’s Executive Chef, Anna Ridgewell, and GWF CEO, Kate Groch. Michael Klauber, Co-Proprietor of Michaels on East, has set up special rates at two premium Sarasota hotels.
On behalf of the team at GWF, we would love to see you there. We’re almost sold out, so if you’re going to join us, click here.
If you can’t join us but would like to contribute to Leanna’s All Heart Fund, you can do so via GWF USA Foundation, a 501 c 3 US operating nonprofit organization.
With special thanks to the All Heart Fund committee: Beth and Steve Knopik, Michael and Terri Klauber, Vin and Michele Beni, and Tom and Sherry Koski.