There is only one organization in which its sole purpose is to make Hopkins County Memorial Hospital the best medical facility in East Texas. The group is called the Hopkins County Health Care Foundation, and they are gearing up for another fundraising year that will also commemorate its 20-year anniversary.
To celebrate their accomplishments, the Lights of Life Campaign Committee — the fundraising arm of the foundation — met Tuesday afternoon at Memorial Hospital with several special announcements for the 2015 campaign. The meeting highlights included announcements of the gala theme, fundraising goals and a large donation from business owners who have supported the organization since the beginning.
“I cannot believe we are about to celebrate our 20-year anniversary for the Lights of Life tree lighting and our 10th year for the LOL Gala,” said Health Care Foundation Director Jackie Thornton. “Our new chairs Gloria (Mitchell), Donna (Rudzik) and Polly (Swatsell) are going to do a wonderful job. I have to say that when these women run the show, we better hold on to our hats. We are so blessed and are all going to make a big difference for the hospital.”
Thorton said one special thing about the new co-chairs was their transition from volunteers to chairwomen.
“We have seen the fruits of their labor for years in their decorations at the gala. Now we are so honored that these three ladies are now chairs,” said Thornton.
After the initial introductions, the co-chairs announced the 2016 gala theme. Thornton asked for a drumroll and committee members pounded rhythmically on their tables to build anticipation.
“We really began to look at who we were honoring this year. We figured that this year seamed to be about awards so we wanted to call this year ‘Oscar Night at the Gala,’” said Rudzik. “We really want to celebrate the 10 years of the gala and 20 years of the organization. We already began planning last night.”
Applause resounded around the room at the announcement. Rudzik also confirmed the gala will be once again at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center with the Texas Unlimited Band playing the night away and Eddie Deen providing the food. The gala is set for Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Aiming high, the goal for the campaign will be $250,000. The campaign will be raising $120,000 for six CPR devices for EMS ambulances and $50,000 for Leaving a Legacy Endowment Fund.
To help kick off the event the correct way, Arvis and Sheila Tanton, owners of Carriage House Manor and The Cottages, made a huge donation. The announcement was so large, it created a new tier for the sponsorship levels in the LOL campaign.
“We want to donate $1,000 for every year the Light of Life has been an organization,” said Arvis.
The crowd erupted with cheers at the $20,000 donation.
"I remember this campaign since the beginning, when I put an angel on the first tree. I even remember Paul Worth coming to my office asking me for a donation back then,” said Tanton. “Recently, I was cleaning out my office and found a picture of me giving Richard Goddard $500. We have really come a long way and are so happy to be able to do this.”
Rounding out the meeting, the committee announced several events that will happen throughout the year. The events include:
Sept. 17 — Style Show at First United Methodist Church, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 — 2nd Annual Half Marathon on Celebration Plaza, 8 a.m.
Oct. 3 — 2nd “Sassy Classy Fall Tea” at Sulphur Springs City Hall, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Nov. 10 — Fly Your Flag bidding, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Nov. 10 — Alliance Bank fundraising lunch, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Nov. 25 — Raising the “Fly Your Flag” winner on Celebration Plaza.
Jan. 23, 2016 — Lights of Life Gala at Civic Center, 6 p.m. to midnight.