By TRAVIS MORSE
---- — MT. VERNON — More than 170 people attended Saturday evening's 26th annual Healthcare Foundation Ball at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
The event is one of two 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.
The foundation serves Jefferson, Clinton, Washington and Marion counties.
Saturday's ball featured a chocolate dessert contest, silent and oral auctions, dinner and musical entertainment. The theme of the evening was “A Red Tie Affair” and most who attended wore elegant formal attire.
But the most important part of the event was raising money for those in need, said Rex Barbee, president of the Healthcare Foundation Board.
Fundraising results from Saturday's gathering were not available Monday, but organizers say the ball typically raises between $15,000 and $20,000.
“The proceeds from the dinner dance, the silent auction, the oral auctions, all go toward the function of The Healthcare Foundation, and that is to try to help as many people as we can in a four-county area,” Barbee said. “We are trying to provide funding for the medical assistance that kind of falls through the cracks.”
The foundation gives 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 get to and from hospital visits.
The foundation has also helped pay for medical equipment, prescriptions, dental visits and more.
Barbee said the foundation does not typically fund “high dollar items,” but sometimes smaller contributions can make a real impact.
“There are times when $200 in prescriptions really helps somebody out,” Barbee said. “And the people who need our help the most are the ones who really don't have much in the way of the ability to pay for some things.”
One of the chief highlights of Saturday's ball was the chocolate dessert contest, which featured a wide variety of cakes, pies and other desserts.
Four judges evaluated the entries in two categories — gourmet/most creative and family favorites. About 15 entries were received.
Judge Carla McDaniel, who works at Schnucks, said she first looks at a dessert's appearance and presentation when evaluating its quality. She then judges the taste and texture.
“I enjoy it and I love chocolate so that makes it better yet,” McDaniel said of being a judge. “If you don't love chocolate, you don't want to be a judge.”
First and second place winners were chosen in each category.
For the gourmet category, first place was Joyce Payne and second place was Sherry Logullo. In the family favorites category, first place was Joyce Bardo and second place was Glenna Atchison.
The winners received gift certificates provided by Schnucks.
The foundation's second major fundraiser of the year is the Duck Race, which will be held Aug. 30.
For more information, contact the foundation at 526-0080.