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Hospice Gala draws crowd of over 1,000

  • Whitney Swift of Benton joins Carbondale's Alex Garrido, a geriatrician with SIH, for a performance of Frank Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young."

    Whitney Swift of Benton joins Carbondale's Alex Garrido, a geriatrician with SIH, for a performance of Frank Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young."
    Courtesy of Tenia Deen Calhoun

  • Anna fiddler Daniel Cohen earned a standing ovation from the audience of 1,100 for his rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

    Anna fiddler Daniel Cohen earned a standing ovation from the audience of 1,100 for his rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."
    Courtesy of Tenia Deen Calhoon

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 1/29/2019, 1:42 AM

MARION -- About 1,100 people packed the Marion Pavilion Saturday evening for the 9th Annual Red Carpet Gala to benefit Hospice of Southern Illinois.

Along with a dinner, raffles, live auction, and silent auction featuring more than 100 items, guests were treated to a Las Vegas-style review, "The Ultimate Musical Road Trip," featuring all-local talent impersonating big-name entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and Fleetwood Mac.

"That has always been the draw," said Herby Voss, one of the directors of the show, "seeing local celebrities doing something they don't normally do."

Voss said he has been surprised at the pool of local talent from the region.

He is assisted with direction by Todd Ellis and Jared Garrison. Those three, joined by Jennifer Vineyard and Jennifer Lee, Voss calls the "We 5" are the powerhouse behind the planning and theme of each year's event.

Vineyard, the event coordinator for Hospice who spent most of Monday returning borrowed items, said the group will meet on Tuesday to do a wrap up.

"I'm sure the theme for next year will be discussed," said Vineyard with a laugh.

Voss, the director of marketing at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion, said planning and implementing the theme and ideas for the Gala allows him to stretch his creativity in other directions.

"I love my job," he said, "but this is my jam."

Voss said using the "Griswolds" of the "Vacation" movies as a string to tie the acts together was a natural.

"In this instance, it was fun and easy," he said.

Voss said one change for finding this year's performers was the use of virtual auditions.

"We let folks send a video and we cast the thing from that,"

After casting, the performers spent time individually preparing for their part in the show, before getting together for rehearsals about a week before the event.

Marion businessman Mike Absher played his flugle horn in public for the first time Saturday evening, giving a unique rendition of Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good."

"Last year, they asked me to put together a horn line for a couple of numbers," he said. "We did that and it was received well."

Absher said when he was asked to help again this year, he jumped at the chance.

"I've always wanted to play that piece, so I told them if they needed another number, I would do it," he said.

Absher has been a sponsor of the event for several years.

"It seems like everybody I know, including members of my own family, have unfortunately been in need of hospice," he said. "If you've ever been witness to that, it's a blessing, It's such an important thing they do."

Vineyard said that hospice receives no outside funding or subsidies beyond insurance, Medicare, and private donations.

"This is our largest event and helps offset costs so that we can continue our mission," she said.

Vineyard said the event typically nets around $80,000.

Hospice of Southern Illinois is a not-for-profit, community-based, state-licensed, Medicare/Medicaid-certified hospice that has provided care to over 39,000 patients and families in 27 Southern Illinois counties since 1981.

The Gala was presented by Heartland Regional Medical Center of Marion.