Gala event at Westin Park Central Hotel to feature entertainment by Sara Hickman, keynote speech by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez
Dallas’ AIDS Interfaith Network, just like nearly every other AIDS service organization in the country, has been hit hard over the past year by cuts in federal funds and the economic recession.
That’s why, Executive Director Steven Pace said this week, it’s more important than ever that the organization’s Bloomin’ Ball … Sowing Seeds of Hope event be successful.
The third annual Bloomin’ Ball event takes place Saturday, April 25, with a VIP reception at 6 p.m., and the opening reception and silent auction at 7 p.m. Featured entertainer will be singer Sara Hickman. Fox 4 news anchor Baron James will host and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is the keynote speaker.
"Proceeds from the ball go into every one of our 10 programs," Pace said. "We’ve lost about $650,000 in government grant funds. Programs that have been hit the hardest are the hot meals program, the Daire Adult Day Center, and the volunteer program and some of our prevention programs have been hit hard, too. Those are the programs that will benefit most from the ball. The programs that have a higher level of need will see the biggest impact from the ball."
AIN’s 10 programs include the meals program, the Daire Adult Day Center, transportation services, outreach, HIV prevention and education, HIV/AIDS education, outreach and prevention targeting minority women, linguistic services, the volunteer program, pastoral services and client advocacy.
Pace said proceeds from Bloomin’ Ball account for about 7 percent of AIN’s overall budget.
Steve Atkinson, chair for this year’s Bloomin’ Ball, said he expects the event to live up to expectations.
"We are really excited about having Sara Hickman there. She is a great singer and a lot of fun as a performer," Atkinson said. "She will be a perfect addition to the whole evening — not just hearing her sing, but seeing her enthusiasm and support for the cause. She donates a lot of her time and her talent to causes like AIN."
Atkinson said he is also excited to have Sheriff Valdez speak, and about the line-up of items up for bid in the silent auction. And, he noted, the Westin Hotel, where Bloomin’ Ball will be held and which is a sponsor for the event, has recently been remodeled, making it "a beautiful location" for the fundraiser.
AIN’s Crystal Hope Award will also be presented during the event. This year’s recipients are St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church and AIN board member and volunteer Carolyn Webber.
"It’s going to be a lot of fun," Atkinson said. "Yes, this is a sit-down dinner, but we have worked hard to make it fun. We don’t want it to be stuffy; we want people to kick back and really enjoy themselves."
AIN benefits from a number of events each year staged by other organizations and businesses. Some of those events are large ones, like Black Tie Dinner; others are much smaller, like events put on by Pekkers bar, Dallas Bears, Leather Knights and Oak Lawn Bowling Association.
But Bloomin’ Ball is the largest annual fundraiser AIN produces itself, Pace said. And until this year, it was the only fundraiser AIN produced itself, he added.
"We are launching ‘The Great Gatsby … Get Your Flap On’ this June. That is a brand new event for us," Pace said.
In addition to raising much-needed funds, Pace said, Bloomin’ Ball also helps raise AIN’s profile in the community and people’s interest in volunteering with the organization.
"This event draws a lot of people to us who then become individual contributors," he said.
Atkinson said that is how he first got involved.
"I attended the event last year and thought it was such a great event. I had lots of fun, and even though this is a fairly new event — only in its third year — they did such a great job putting it on. I told [Pace] that very night that I would be happy to help out in any way I could," Atkinson recalled.
He said he later got a call asking him to be event chair for this year’s Bloomin’ Ball. "Then I went and toured the facility and really got educated about the work they do and the number of clients, and I was just really blown away," he continued. "I found out then that a lot of their clients are homeless people who probably wouldn’t be getting any services at all if not for AIN. It’s just remarkable.
"They just do so much on such a well-managed budget. I am just so impressed with how much they get done, what a great job they do with such a small staff and a small budget," Atkinson said.
And that, Pace said, is part of the importance of the Bloomin’ Ball: "It’s a way for us to keep the message alive that HIV/AIDS is still out there, and it’s still a threat. That’s a message people need to hear."
Bloomin’ Ball … Sowing Seeds of Hope
The third annual Bloomin’ Ball … Sowing Seeds of Hope, benefiting AIDS Interfaith Network, will be held Saturday, April 25 at the Westin Park Central Hotel, 12720 Merit Drive, with a VIP reception at 6 p.m., and the opening reception and silent auction starting at 7 p.m.
Featured entertainer will be singer Sara Hickman. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is keynote speaker. Event host will be Fox 4 news anchor Baron James.
Event chair is Steve Atkinson. Honorary co-chairs are Parkland Foundation board chair Veletta Forsythe Lill and Edelman Public Relations Executive Vice President and Regional Manager Teresa Henderson.
General admission tickets are $75. VIP tickets are $100. Seating at both price levels are limited. Table sponsorship packages are available, starting at $125 per person for a table of eight. Tickets and sponsorships are available online at www.aidsinterfaithnetwork.org.
For more information, contact Blake Peery by phone at 214-943-4444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 17, 2009.