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LIFE Masquerade Ball returns

After holding its first Masquerade Ball in November 2017, The LIFE Center in Farmington found it to have been so successful that the organization is bringing it back for a second year from 4:30 p.m. to midnight Sept. 29 at Alexander’s Hall with another night of great food, dancing and entertainment, as well as a silent and live auction.

The 22-year-old center works with individuals with disabilities wanting to remain independent or to regain their independence. It is funded through a Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation grant and Medicaid fee for service program, along with private and corporate donations and fundraisers.

The reason for the Masquerade Ball is simple. After $2.5 million in cuts made to the Missouri state budget in the spring of 2016, the LIFE Center and other similar centers throughout the state suddenly found themselves without funds to pay for their staff and programs.

Azinger was forced to announce employee layoffs, cut salaries, reduce the number of employees covered by health insurance and other benefits, and close one of its two satellite offices. 

To help offset the cuts and with the hope of reinstituting some of its discontinued services, LIFE Center held a successful Masquerade Ball fundraiser last November that grossed more than $47,000.

According to LIFE Center Marketing Director Stacey Wright, planning the 2017 Masquerade Ball was an almost overwhelming experience for her.

“With it being our first year, it was very scary, but for our first time it turned out amazing,” she said. “As the central person that coordinates everything, I help arrange all the décor, get special guests to come in and find donors to provide auction items.

“We were very pleased with the amount of money we raised last year, but this year we’re hoping to nearly double that number. We’re taking our experiences that we had from last year and making some improvements for this year that will hopefully help our numbers to grow.”

Asked why the Masquerade Ball is being held two months earlier than last year’s ball, Wright explained that there were a number of conflicting activities in November, so it was decided to move the event to September.

“People had already committed to attending the other events and weren’t going to be able to attend the ball,” she said. “We tried really hard to schedule a date for this year where there were not as many conflicts and fortunately, so far, there’s not any conflicts in the area. We’re going to sell out of tables pretty quick. They’re going pretty fast and we’re real excited about that. Also, because it’s happening earlier this year than last, I’ve been extremely busy.”

Wright said the dinner is being prepared by the LIFE Center staff and volunteers.

“They’re recognized for how well they smoke meat and then we have staff whose parents used to run a restaurant,” she said. “Their parents are also helping us oversee the waiters and waitresses, bussing the tables and things like that. With the food we were fortunate to get a lot of donations from various stores to help keep the costs down in order to make this ball successful with little expense.”

Special guest of the evening will be paraplegic Wesley Hamilton. Although he has been confined to a wheelchair for five years, he’s a single father, inspiring speaker, a medal-winning competitive adaptive athlete, international award-winning community giver who has been featured in a BBC documentary, graced the pages of Men’s Health magazine and founded the not-for-profit organization Disabled But Not Really Foundation.

“He’s waiving his speaking fees to come for free because he loves the LIFE Center’s mission and what we do for people in our community,” Wright said. “He said, ‘I just want to be a part of your night and I’m not going to charge anything. Holiday Inn is providing him with a free room for a night and Anytime Fitness is donating $250 to help provide the cost of his rental car and gasoline.”

Something new this year is a raffle where the winner will win $10,000 cash.

“We are selling 200 raffle tickets for $100 each and the drawing will be at the ball, but you do not have to be at the ball to win,” Wright said. “These tickets are on sale right now, so if anybody’s interested in buying a ticket, they can call me at the LIFE Center and we’ll get the ticket to you.”

Following the live auction, Stingray will be providing live music for the Masquerade Ball dance.

“They’ll break out the music and the dance floor and then, when they’re finished playing, we’ll have a deejay that will finish out the night until midnight,” Wright said.

While tables have been selling like hotcakes, there are still a few left.

“One of the things that’s helping the sale of our tickets is that the people who came last year loved it and said they had to come back this year,” she said. “Also, on the tickets, we’re giving a chance to win a $500 gift card for a Cruise Vacation. The drawing will be that evening and the winner must be present at the ball.”

Tickets are $50 each; $80 per couple; $320 per table and $350 for a business table. To purchase tickets for the Masquerade Ball, call the LIFE Center at 573- 756-4314 or 800-596-7273, ext. 110 or email Stacey Wright at staceyw@lifecilmo.org.

This couple is among many who had a great time at last November's LIFE Center Masquerade Ball. A second one is planned for Sept. 29 at Alexander's Hall. the evening will featuring great food, dancing and entertainment, along with a silent and live auction. Proceeds from the event will go the the LIFE Center for Independent Living in Farmington.

This couple is among many who had a great time at last November’s LIFE Center Masquerade Ball. A second one is planned for Sept. 29 at Alexander’s Hall. the evening will featuring great food, dancing and entertainment, along with a silent and live auction. Proceeds from the event will go the the LIFE Center for Independent Living in Farmington.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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