County’s first Butterfly Ball brings in cash for CASA

By TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

May 14, 2007 - Butterflies, ball gowns and doo-wop music may not have much in common in our everyday lives, but Saturday night, they joined forces to raise money for a local charity.

About 50 people attended the first Butterfly Ball.

�We wanted to do something where people could dress up and have an evening on the town,� said Michael Dodd, co-founder of the ball. �We wanted to do all that without having to leave Sulphur Springs.�

So Dodd and co-founder Steve Janway organized the ball, with proceeds going to Lake Country Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known as CASA.

Lake Country CASA is a non-profit organization dedicated to looking out for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the court system.

"It was an absolutely wonderful evening," said Gena Law, CASA director. "Michael and Steve did a beautiful job. This ball is a gift to the community, and I feel fortunate that we were the ones to kick it off."

Janway said the Butterfly Ball will support a different charity every year.

The gym at the First United Methodist Church’s Family Life Center was transformed Saturday into a fairy tale garden full of beautiful flowers and twinkly lights. 

"The food was top shelf," said Denise Grammer, who attended the ball with her husband, Shanon, to show their  support for CASA. "The show was light-hearted and fun. CASA is a worthy charity, and this ball was a long-overdue way to recognize their hard work."

Dinner was catered by Judy’s Kitchen and featured a choice of grilled salmon or pork medallions, complemented by a fresh spring salad, green beans, wild rice pilaf and Judy’s signature baby carrots with horseradish sauce. 

Patrons had their choice of butterfly cakes in five flavors, expertly prepared by Mary Lutz.

After-dinner entertainment was provided by the popular Sulphur Springs quartet The Plaids, backed up by Loren Seely on the upright bass and Ken Hanushek on piano.

John White, Chuck Jones, Kevin Woolley and Dodd sang doo-wop numbers and performed some pretty funny shtick, including an impromptu appearance by the Pope (Loren Seely in a great costume). His holiness acted as an intermediary between the Plaids and their regular piano player, Hanushek and Denise Grammer, who came to the stage when Hanushek walked off due to fabricated  issues with his union contract. His Holiness' rather unorthodox mediation methods must have worked, because Hanushek and Grammer ended up providing dual back up for the group on "Unchained Melody," a crowd favorite.

"I enjoy listening to the Plaids so much," Grammer said. "Their harmonies are so tight and perfect, they give me chill bumps sometimes."

Door prizes were given out to lucky guests, with names being drawn out of a "magic lantern" by 10-year old Madison Rater, who, with her mother, Denise, provided live butterflies for the evening. Patrons won a trip to the Dallas Summer Musicals, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Ancient Treasures of the Holy Land, a night at the Magnolia hotel in Dallas, a flat of flowers to start a butterfly garden, and autographed books by Alexander McCall Smith and Jim Ainsworth.

"It was such a relaxing evening," Law said. "I had been in Austin all week for meetings, so I got a personal boost from the night. It's also so helpful to see so many talented people willing to help out. Seeing them really helps keep me going.

Dodd and Janway are already looking forward to next year's event.

"We haven't decided which charity will benefit from the ball next year, but we're looking forward to putting it on," Dodd said. "This year was a success. The crowd wasn't as large as we hoped, but we raised money for CASA, and that was our goal from the beginning."

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