The man needs no introduction. He’s globally recognized as an entertainer on the VIP circuit where he spins for the likes of Sting and Jamie Foxx. At 16 seasons deep as their resident DJ, he’s like the longest standing member of the Miami Heat. He and his infectious laugh are regulars on Good Morning America and he has been featured on “Conan”, “The Early Show”, MTV and E! Entertainment Television, as well as in USA Today, Us Weekly, ESPN The Magazine and countless others. But there were some interesting gigs before the big time as well. As a teenager, he rocked the ones and twos at famed roller-skating rink, Hot Wheels and later acted as the general manager of campus radio at Florida International University, his alma mater.
He grew through the ranks and hit the stage at almost every nightlife venue in Miami, worth its weight—from Coconut Grove to South Beach, everyone’s swayed to his beat before.
And while Irie, otherwise known by birth name, Ian Grocher, is a very talented individual, it was thanks to the opportunities he worked so hard to get that he attributes his success; a detail that’s at the heart of what’s now his greatest passion, the philanthropic Irie Foundation. In a past interview, Grocher spoke to the fact that “talent in universal; but opportunity is not;” so the music industry superstar has been working tirelessly for some twelve years to create opportunity where lacking through the Irie Foundation and it’s annual fundraising event, Irie Weekend.
The Foundation, a South Florida initiative that’s exponentially growing to other markets the world over, aims to make an impact on the lives of at-risk-youth from a young age, starting to work with them in middle school and continuing to mold their lives through high school with the ultimate going being to inspire and encourage its students to graduate, pursue higher education and develop into successful adults. A lovely concept, for sure; but how is that accomplished, you might ask? Through a lot of dedication, for sure.
Irie has dedicated countless hours and resources of his own and of his loyal supporters to put programs in place that aid in the creation of these opportunities. Mentorship programs, scholarship opportunities, even the implementation of cultural experiences through what he calls a cultural passport for its ability to really take these children to new places with experience as a vehicle, Irie is bridging the gap for underprivileged youth who might not otherwise see their own potential for greatness.
One specific outlet is athletics: while anyone can toss a football around their very block or bounce a basketball on a sidewalk, not just anyone can walk on to a golf course, for example. Which is why it’s particularly fitting that one of the foundation’s largest annual fundraising events, Irie Weekend, be comprised of a celebrity golf tournament.
For this, the foundation’s twelfth annual Irie Weekend, taking place from June 22-25, 2016, both the children and their favorite celebrities will take to the Miami Beach Golf Club for a series of clinics and tournaments from which all net proceeds will benefit the Irie Foundation’s programming as well as a number of other local and national non-profit organizations. Some of the big name participants include NBA and NFL players both active and retired such as Marcus Smart, Hassan Whiteside, Reggie Bush, Jarvis Landry, Shane Battier and Gary Sheffield—truly a testament to the enormous support that Grocher has garnered for his efforts. Aside from athletic goings on, the weekend is bookended by Irie-caliber fun: On Wednesday June 22nd, the Shelborne hotel will act as host to the #InspIRIE Dinner Gala which will include a special, private performance by famed America jazz pianist, ELEW; on Friday evening, there will be a 20 year reunion performance by DRU HILL at LIV Nightclub; and on Saturday, slews of supporters will head back to the Shelborne for a BBQ beach bash followed by a closing celebration at E11EVEN.
It’s through these proactive initiatives and programs that funds are raised to expand the Irie footprint to places outside of South Florida, including South Africa, where a current mission to build fresh water wells is in full effect; including a pen pal program that connects the program’s South Florida students to kids in South Africa, thus giving them a broader view of the state of the world.
And the ability to take part in this global platform is far from limited to those of stature; Grocher is vocal about the greatest resource to his efforts being the heart that others put in to helping the cause. America’s youth depends on you.
For more information about the Irie Foundation, visit www.iriefoundation.org.