April 29 marked yet another Gala sponsored by the Athens Limestone Hospital Foundation, and when I stopped by for the interview, I think it is safe to say that everyone at the Foundation was thrilled with how it went, understandably a bit tuckered out, and deeply grateful for all of the support from many sectors of the community to make Puttin’ On The Glitz a roaring success. There were about 300 people in attendance, mostly from Athens, and mostly medical professionals, as well as other businesses and private citizens who understand the value of the Foundation’s mission.
The fund-raising focus for this year’s Gala was to purchase what was described as “the most recent, advanced equipment for the Athens-Limestone Hospital Outpatient Surgery Department.” Hospital President David Pryor said the project will be a “medical office building, include a surgery department with six operating rooms, imaging and laboratory services, and physician office space spread across 75,000 square feet. Construction is expected to take about 1.5 years to complete. The project is considered an expansion of the Athens-Limestone Hospital surgery department.”
This was Leah Beth McNutt’s first year to chair the event, and she told me her story about the evening from the perspective of working the event as well as simply enjoying the evening. “People LOVED having the Red Carpet photo shoot, and they were smilin’ big and feelin’ famous for a minute.” She mentioned that the backdrop for the photo op was designed well, and showcased the logos of the sponsors, which pleased them. The ticket price also included a photo booth so attendees could capture the evening just like an A-lister, and it was one of the more popular features of the event.
The Gala Committee members helped with centerpieces, which were created by Dugger’s Florist, the black and white Hollywood style linens, the tea lights, and the logistics of getting the auction items placed so the room would look stunning. “I could go on all night about the auction items,” she said. “Jewelry, bags, trips, and more. It was amazing. And, Gracie found a home.” Gracie is a shelter dog who had been rescued and placed in a loving home, and her adoptive owner needed to find a new home for her. Mission accomplished, and everyone benefitted.
Some of the “hot items” of the evening were the trip to Ireland, as well as the trip to Napa Valley, California. Osborne’s Jewelers had a game that involved each guest having a puzzle piece to a large puzzle. The person with the missing piece won either a bracelet or a watch.
Prior to the auction, just from tickets and sponsor donations, the Gala grossed over 73,000 dollars. They have not finished tallying up the final results of the evening, but the Foundation did not want to wait to express their gratitude for all that made the evening a success.
Leah said the food was “gorgeous. The guests had their choice of Beef Wellington, snapper or chicken, and the desserts were a sampler plate. All of it was delicious.”
Other things that Leah Beth enjoyed were the Erik Blue Band, which provided what she described as “cool music during dinner and for the dance.” She told me they are an outstanding cover band from Nashville. She enjoyed the fact that the people attending felt comfortable either getting really dressed up, “puttin’ on the Glitz, if you will,” or dressed a bit more casually. “I enjoyed watching everyone else enjoy the evening. Some people were there for ‘date night.’ Some were there representing their corporation, and everyone had fun. Radio personality Abby Kay from 96.5 FM was the emcee for the evening, and she was a GREAT emcee,” said Leah Beth.
Of course in this digital social media age there was coverage on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The “hashtag handle” for the evening was #ALFHGala2017, and there were selfies galore invading cyber-space from the Rocket City. You can check them out on any of those platforms.
At the Gala it was announced, “Because of generous donors like you, our 2016 event fundraisers provided Athens-Limestone Hospital with advanced technology and helped further our women’s health programs. Our three events grossed a total of $131,040. Thank you. Thank you Thank you!”
Leah Beth finished our interview with a happy sigh and the following comment: “It was, I guess the best word is ‘heartwarming’ to see people being so generous and supporting our mission,” and she along with the rest of the Foundation members want everyone to know that they are glad to be “puttin’ forth the gratitude.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner