A record-breaking $164,000 was raised for Volunteers in Medicine in the 17th annual Reverse Raffle hosted by the Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation.
White Japanese Spider mums served as the tables’ centerpieces complemented by helium-filled, white and black balloons that seemed to sway to the music played by Sound of Dreams, the event’s entertainment for the Friday evening event at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.
As guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, Carrie Douglas and 18 of her students worked closely with the Clarion’s chef Troy Matthews to prepare and serve a main course of smoked chicken and sweet corn lasagna.
Masters of ceremonies Todd Bergman and Kevina Schumaker took to the stage with a bit of humor. In light of last year’s mic difficulties, each had an acoustic megaphone just in case. Schumaker joked that if her mic didn’t work, she may have been set up on purpose.
In the spirit of the evening’s theme, “It Takes a Community,” Bergman offered a prayer before dinner saying, “We are gathering as a diverse community, praying in diverse ways ...”
Bergman gave 10 reasons to be thankful. Near the end of the prayer, one of the more light-hearted reasons included, “VIM doesn’t stand for voluminous intense messages,” which received a few soft laughs from the crowd.
Julie Abedian, president of Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation, thanked the evening’s sponsors saying, “It does take a community to make the clinic possible.”
Following dinner, Bergman asked all the attendees to stand, grab their balloon and detach it from its weight ... and hold onto it.
On a three count, the black and white balloons were released and drifted to the ceiling as a symbolic show of community support.
“OK, now go ahead and get your balloon back down,”
Bergman joked. “That was just a first time. We’re going to do it again. This time, for real.”
Leslie Gordon, planned and major gifts officer for the Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation, said the balloon release was definitely among the evening’s memorable moments.
“I thought it showed so much significance about how everyone came together,” Gordon said. “It was an amazing display of support shown for Volunteers in Medicine.”
During the evening, all 500 raffle tickets, sold at $100 apiece, sold out for the first time in the event’s 17 year history.
The winners of this year’s Reverse Raffle’s $10,000 prize were Ed and Kim Pence, of Columbus.
The annual gala event serves as Volunteers in Medicine’s largest fundraiser.
All event proceeds benefit the clinic, which offers medical treatment to low-income and uninsured individuals, to help support it’s operating costs.
Gordon, who assisted with organizing the event, said the evening was a huge success.
“The community really came together,” Gordon said. “Everyone worked so well together, I was thrilled with how everything turned out.”