ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Hospital Foundation is hoping for an exact repeat of what happened last year.
In 2016, the Foundation held its inaugural fundraising ball. The Red Affair Gala was a wildly successful venture for the group, bringing in, after expenses, more than $20,000 from the hundreds of people who attended.
“Needless to say, it was well received,” said Foundation Executive Director Ashley Dowless. “We had so many people show up at the door that we had to pull extra tables out. We really had the best time, and we’re still getting compliments on it.”
There will be a couple of changes to 2017’s effort. In order to have a head count ahead of time, tickets will only be sold in advance. Dowless said only a limited number of tickets remain.
A second change involves the theme. Still a formal affair, this year’s event will have the added component of mystery, as the organizers decided to put on a Black and White Masquerade Ball for guests.
“People really seemed to enjoy getting dressed up,” said Dowless. “I think this is one of the only formal events Bladen County has, and, personally, I’ve always wanted to go to a masquerade ball. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”
Attire for the evening will be suits for men and cocktail or floor-length dresses for women and, of course, masks. Dowless said the hospital gift shop is carrying some for sale in advance, or a limited number will be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Diverse Groove Unlimited. As their name implies, the group performs a variety of genres, from Top 40, beach, and Motown to R&B, rock, dance, and reggae. Band leader Lamar Brace, formerly of Chairmen of the Board, leads, according to the group’s web site, “a dynamic horn section, beautiful and talented vocalists, and one of the most highly sought-after rhythm sections.
“The lead singer is a very popular singer, and their reviews are just amazing,” Dowless offered.
The treats don’t stop with the entertainment. A sit-down meal will be provided by Giorgio’s, including prime rib, chicken, and “all the trimmings,” according to Dowless.
“(Giorgio’s owner George Boussias) really pulls out all the stops. It’s not a buffet, but a very, very, classy formal event,” said Dowless.
A big hit last year, the photo booth is making a return, courtesy of Amber Warwick with Captured Memories Photography. Warwick donates her time, and guests are able to view and download photos of themselves for free after the event.
“The nice thing about our galas is that everything, except the band, is local. We could have easily called outside services, but we want the community to benefit from this,” Dowless explained.
Tickets — which Dowless called “well worth it” — are $50 and can be purchased from the hospital gift shop or by calling 910-862-1206. Sponsorships are still available as well, and inquiries can be made by calling the same number. Proceeds raised go to the Foundation’s efforts in supporting the patients of Bladen County Hospital. Funds are used to assist the hospital with such things as purchasing equipment and providing patient and family support.
The Black and White Masquerade Ball will be held Saturday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at Lu Mil Vineyard, located at 438 Suggs-Taylor Road in Dublin.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.