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RMSC Exceeds Goals and Raises $160,000 at Sold-Out Innovation Celebration Annual Fundraising Gala

    ROCHESTER, NY—The Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) surpassed the revenue goals and attendance expectations for its major annual event, Innovation Celebration, making it the most successful RMSC fundraising event to date. Together, community members, RMSC members, donors, volunteers and staff contributed to the success of the evening, raising approximately $160,000. The optics-themed event, which took place on September 25, showcased fascinating science and innovation and had a sold-out crowd of more than 500 people.

    “We are grateful to our community for their tremendous generosity,” said Kate Bennett, president, RMSC. “We raised some necessary funds that will help us to continue inspiring guests of all ages and backgrounds in science and discovery in new, immersive ways. We could not have achieved this level of success without the wonderful support from 45 companies and individuals who were sponsors at various levels. In particular, we appreciate Corning Incorporated which was this year’s Imagination Sponsor. In addition, we appreciate the support from hundreds of businesses and individuals who contributed to our silent and live auctions which helped to generate nearly $35,000.”

    At the radiant evening event, attendees explored the science of light and optics, a topic that’s greatly important to Rochester’s future. Guests also networked with fellow RMSC supporters and got hands-on with the Museum’s 200 interactive exhibits. Throughout the evening, RMSC experts performed spectacular light-themed experiments. Entertainers included guitarist Alphonso Williams and local band Vintage, as well as animal encounters with Wildlife Defenders and interactive light art from NoirFlux. Attendees enjoyed an open bar with specialty drinks, food stations and hors d’oeuvres. Silent and live auction items included several valuable items and experiences.

    A significant reason for our success was due to the generosity of and support from the RMSC Trustees. Together, they established a challenge fund where they matched dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for our Fund the Future. Through this initiative, the RMSC raised a total of $64,300 to help shine a bright light on our community’s future.

    The chairs of Innovation Celebration were Nick Berno and Erin Lemcke-Berno. This year’s honorary chairs were Barbara and John Bruning. Nick and John are both current trustees of the RMSC board.

    Community support helps the RMSC to give back to Rochester community members in several ways. The RMSC:

    • Engages nearly 375,000 visitors annually in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with more than 200 hands-on exhibits.
    • Excites 60,000 school-aged children in groups annually about STEM through exhibits and programs.
    • Prepares 10 to 15 at-risk youths each year for workforce readiness.
    • Inspires more than 2,500 children through interactive science in its annual Summer Fun camps.
    • Subsidizes admission and transportation costs, making it possible for nearly 20,000 underserved children, families and school groups to visit each year.

    Donations can be made to the RMSC by contacting Katie Mackey at 585.697.1973, or online at
    The RMSC hosts its Innovation Celebration annually. The fundraising event themes change yearly and support the RMSC mission. The optics theme this year was fitting as Rochester will soon be home to the national Photonics Manufacturing Institute and the RMSC is joining organizations worldwide in celebrating the UNESCO-proclaimed International Year of Light.

    Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives major funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families. For more information about RMSC, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

    Photo 1: Freda Miller, Kate Bennett, Dana Miller
    Photo 2: Vic Salerno, Laurie and Andrew Meloni, Eileen Salerno, Pam Sherman
    Photo 3: Jeff and Liv Burkey
    Photo 4: Bruce Baker, Kate Bennett, Wayne Hermanson, John Carver