Vocal event breaks record

The third annual Crooners for CASA fundraiser features people singing karaoke to hit records during team competition. But the Saturday event highlighted another record it hit — nearly $60,000, including cash and in-kind donations.

That easily topped last year’s record of $51,000 to benefit Columbus-based Advocates For Children, said Mike Rossetti, a board member, event founder and event chair.

“I’m excited to see this event keep growing,” said Rick Scalf, community outreach coordinator for Advocates for Children. “I think it shows not only that people are having a great time at the event itself, but that this community is committed to making a real difference for the children who need us the most.”

Money from the eight-team event that attracted a sold-out crowd of 350 people at The Commons helps the nonprofit agency train and assist Court-Appointed Special Advocates, volunteers who represent the best interests of children in court cases such as those involving neglect or abuse in south-central Indiana. It also funds hiring additional staff to handle cases, Rossetti said.

“(That’s) something we’ve had to do more of as demand for services increases much faster than we can recruit volunteer CASAs,” Rossetti said. “We should note that our preference is always the CASA model, but using staff as guardians ad litem allows us to more quickly reduce the waiting list and get these children the help they need.”

With the number of abuse and neglect cases across the state continuing to grow in the face of an ongoing epidemic of untreated addiction, the agency also has another 300 children currently on its waiting list, Scalf said.

Therese Miller, Advocate For Children’s executive director, has said before that CASAs serve children to “fight for their right to a safe, loving and permanent place to call home.”

Last year, the agency served 647 children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties, providing more than 29,000 hours of advocacy.

In 2014, the inaugural year for the Crooners show, then held at the smaller Mill Race Center, the event generated $40,000 — well beyond the first-time goal of $25,000.

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Two teams tied for the grand prize for raising the most money at Crooners for CASA, Rockin’ Rossetti and his Homerun Hotties and American Idol Finalists. The Rockin’ Rossetti team, performing “Opening Day Medley,” consisted of Mike and Pam Rossetti, Victoria Griffin, Julie Aton, Melanie Remillard and Michelle Aton. American Idol Finalists, performing “Dancing Queen,” was comprised of Kordell Reid, Cameron Wilson, Rick Kramer, John Sadtler and Brad Gambrel.

The award for Best Costume went to American Idol Finalists.

The People’s Choice award went to Radio Up, a group consisting of Kelly Benjamin, Scott Benjamin, Charlie Farber, Jayne Farber, John Fairbanks, Mike Johnston, Kota Benjamin, Keagan Benjamin, who performed a rendition of “Chicken Fried.”