The Sky’s the Limit: The 2018 Spare Key Groove Gala and how “Bounce” happens



Spare Key’s Groove Gala,, has grown from a staid 200 person event in the basement ballroom of the old Hotel Sofitel to a high-energy celebration with nearly 900 guests held at the Depot Renaissance Hotel in Minneapolis.

It didn’t get that way by itself.

There are, of course, a lot of people behind its success.

The Spare Key Team of Mary Serie and Sophie Butler have played a pivotal role in its success.

Mary’s dogged determination in securing sponsorships, silent and live auction items and maintaining order throughout the registration process before, during and after the event makes an event that would be daunting to a staff of 20 appear smooth for a staff of only four people.

Sophie fingerprints are on every single aspect of the Groove Gala.  From the design to the entertainment to the marketing and promotion of the event, all the way through the evening’s production where she helps to stage manage the flow of the show.

Emily Franksen, our newest Spare Key Team Member, has been thrust into the middle of all of this massive moving milieu of activity.  She coordinates our volunteers, manages the silent auction process and at the same time is also managing our Program.

My Board of Directors, including this year’s Groove Gala Chair Susan Link, have been essential to growing this event.  As we get closer to the event itself there are increasing numbers of emails, phone calls and entreaties by Spare Key Staff for this, that and everything in between.  It has been their commitment to fulfilling their promises to the organization that have been fundamental to the Groove Gala’s success.

There is, without question, our sponsors.  This year’s event is being presented by TitleSmart

This home-grown, woman owned, and operated title company has at its helm one Cindy Koebele.  She is a force of nature in all things.  When she says, “I’ll do that!”  she does that in multiples.

There isn’t enough room on this page for the number of sponsors we have for this year’s Gala – which underscores that Spare Key is fortunate to have the support of many people with big hearts.

We are fortunate, as well, to have the creative genius of Nancy Jacobs, President of edgproductions,, another woman owned and lead company.  Her work has been featured all over the world, and rightly so.  Nancy and her entire team can make silk out of a pig’s ear – and get the rest of the pig to fly – and make it look incredible!

The team at the Minneapolis Renaissance, The Depot Hotel, has been a necessary partner in the growth and success of The Groove.

When we looked to move our event from the Aria – after outgrowing the space in less than two years – The Depot space looked massive and daunting.  How would a small non-profit like Spare Key be able to fill that space?

After working out some operational kinks in our first year in 2016 with the professional support of the Team at the Renaissance we saw our 20th Anniversary Groove Gala in 2017 come together with nearly 950 guests like clockwork.

Finally, and most assuredly not least important, is our partnership with Kent Kolstad, Founder, President and Technical Director of Fargo-based Livewire,, a production house that offers a glimpse into the remarkable power of Millennial Entrepreneurship.

Kent, in his biography, is described as a “Live event veteran and new-school creative in UHD. Sleep is for the weak. Thrives on coffee, new ideas, camaraderie, art and music.”

On their website the company describes itself this way:

“With offices in Fargo, North Dakota and a presence throughout the North’s greatest cities including Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Bismarck, St. Cloud and Alexandria, Livewire is one of the most versatile, creative, efficient and cost-effective production houses in the region, providing live event production for events of any shape, size and style throughout the country.

Our clients range from local entrepreneurs to concert promoters, large-scale international companies to community-building organizations, non-profits, and everyone in-between.”

One of the great stories about Kent and the company he has built and grown from the ground up is in a Prairie Business Magazine article from 2015.

The leading line of the article says just about all you need to know about Kent:

“Around the age of 13, most kids have no idea what they want to be when they grow up. Kent Kolstad, founder of Livewire Entertainment Media Services, was beginning a business that would sustain his life and passions 15 years later.”

Seventeen years later Kent Kolstad has created one of the finest production houses in the Midwest and, I have no doubt, in far less than seventeen years from now it will be one of the finest production houses in the world.

I love the story of Kent, at age 13, knowing what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

At the age of 13 I was running and managing a gas station in Fairmount, North Dakota.

While I didn’t end up having a career in the service station industry, I did end up having a career in public service.  By any measure, whether it was helping people pump gas or helping them pay their mortgage, I think that time at the Fairmount Mobil served me well.

Kent and his company don’t just give back – they have the back of those they are partners with in every facet of the projects they do.

There are no problems in Kent’s world – only opportunities.

At Spare Key we don’t have time to worry about problems – we only have time to work with Kent, and the other amazing Groove Gala partners – on opportunities.

Sixteen days from now the Spare Key Groove Gala presented by TitleSmart will take place in Minneapolis.  Our Master of Ceremonies Steve Patterson, Co-Host of Twin Cities Live! will call us together, and he, along with our Live Auctioneer Kristine Fladaboe Duininck will help us raise a lot of money to help a lot more families.

There is still time to get your tickets or sponsor a table – donate some items for our Silent and Live Auction – and volunteer for this event. Just email Mary at and she will work with you to make that all happen.

An event, that without the partnership, commitment, heart and soul of a lot of people and companies, simply could not happen.

Our Groove Gala color this year is Blue, and our theme is “The Sky’s the Limit.”

I have no doubt that come Saturday, February 24th we will gather together to show those families we are honored to serve that when it comes to helping them “Bounce and not Break” the sky truly is the only limit.

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