By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Tickets are still available for the 26th annual Healthcare Foundation Ball, which begins at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
The event will feature a chocolate contest, silent and oral auctions, dinner and musical entertainment provided by the group SMASH. Tickets are $75 each.
The ball is one of the major fundraisers of the year for The Healthcare Foundation, a non-profit agency based in Carlyle that helps the less fortunate in this region meet their medical needs.
Gay Zurliene, executive director of the foundation, said the event typically raises between $15,000 and $20,000. Roughly 200 people are expected to attend this year.
“It’s one of our main fundraisers we have to do,” Zurliene said.
Organizers say the chocolate contest has always been a highlight of the ball.
As part of the competition, the general public is invited to submit chocolate desserts, which are then judged in two categories — gourmet/most creative and family favorites.
Entries in the gourmet category must be made from scratch. However, family favorite entries can be made using a cake mix.
First and second place winners are selected in each category. All four winners receive a monetary gift.
The most common type of dessert submitted for the contest is cake, but other kinds of chocolate dishes are allowed as well, including bon-bons and cupcakes.
“It’s a variety of different chocolate desserts,” said Jo Ann Bain, co-chairman of the chocolate contest.
Judges will begin evaluating the chocolate desserts at around 4:45 to 5 p.m. Saturday. After that, a social hour will be held and the silent auction commences at 6 p.m.
Oral auctions will take place before dinner, which is served at 7 p.m. that evening. The chocolate desserts from the contest will be available to the public during dinner.
Finally, dancing to the music of SMASH begins at around 8:30 p.m.
All proceeds from the event go to The Healthcare Foundation, which serves a four-county area that includes Jefferson, Clinton, Washington and Marion counties.
The foundation provides assistance related to health care needs and medical issues. To receive help, you must fill out an application and meet certain foundation criteria.
In the past, the foundation has supplied gas cards to help families with transportation costs to get to and from hospital visits.
Also, the foundation has funded medical equipment and dental visits, and has lent support to a horseback riding program for the disabled, the Salvation Army, food pantries and more.
“We try to meet whatever the need is for,” Zurliene said.
The ball is one of two major annual fundraisers for the foundation. The other event is a Duck Race that takes place every summer at the Carlyle Lake Dam along the Kaskaskia River.
To apply for assistance or to purchase a ticket to the ball, contact Zurliene at 526-0080.