Helping kids with a dance-off helped Eddie Ventrice remember his own struggle
Eddie Ventrice has five kids between him and his wife Elyse. And none of them can believe the stories he tells about his childhood.
“I tell them about it, and I just don’t think they believe me,” Ventrice says.
It’s perhaps because Ventrice, for many years, put behind him those cycles of growing up poor, of struggling through college. Now the managing director at an investment firm in Boca Raton, Ventrice was reminded of his origins recently when he helped raise money for a scholarship fund that helps kids afford college; suddenly, those years when he was struggling himself came back.
Those memories are what pushed Ventrice in his efforts to raise money for the George Snow Scholarship Fund during his appearance at Boca’s Ballroom Battle. Ventrice raised more money than any other performer at the 2019 event, topping $250,000.
For Ventrice, thinking about the kids helped by the scholarship brought him back to his childhood in Deerfield Beach. He had moved from the Bronx at age 10 with his mom after his parents divorced. Not long after, he made friends with a kid from school who came from a stable home, one of five children whose parents encouraged and nurtured them in a way Ventrice hadn’t seen. “I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know a family could work like that,” Ventrice says. “I kind of saw how their family lived, and I wanted that for myself.”
He got a job in high school flipping burgers, and he dove into the work, finding that he thrived in putting in a little bit more than what was asked of him. At University of Florida, he needed that kind of work ethic to survive going to school while also working 30 hours a week at a Volvo dealership to afford it. For his final three months in school, he crashed on the couch of a friend’s apartment when his money ran out. He graduated with an accounting degree but switched not long after to the investment field. He’s a founding member of the BV Group and now its managing director of wealth management. Thirteen people now report to him, and the company manages $2.5 billion in assets.
He’s volunteered for several nonprofit boards and fundraising efforts over the years but always turned down offers to participate in the Ballroom Battle, invariably responding: “No, no, no, no. I’m a horrible dancer. Maybe after five drinks I’d get on the dance floor previously.”
When a friend finally convinced him, he immersed himself in it. He took dance lessons three times a week for five months, concentrating and practicing the routine nearly every day.
He picked the George Snow Scholarship Fund because, he says, it helps students like him. It has provided more than $12 million since its founding in 1982. In raising money for the event, Ventrice says he tapped into the relationships he has built up over the years. He asked business partners, friends and clients to chip in a thousand dollars. Many of them gave 10 or 15 grand. “I went deep into those relationships I’ve built and asked everybody for money,” he says.
“I can relate to those kids [receiving scholarship funds], because I lived the same life these kids are living now,” he adds. “I had kind of put all that behind me now, but I had it tough, and this was a reminder of that.”