Saturday Night's 2012 Lights of Life Gala
Exceeds All Expectations
by: Bobby McDonald
You could hear the "call of the jungle" in the background and the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Exhibition Hall had been transformed into an exotic African oasis, as guests arrived for Saturday night's 2012 Lights of Life Gala. The sold out crowd of approximately 530 guests entered through a bamboo entryway that greeted them with a zebra and warthog, from the hunting collection of Mickey McKenzie. Mickey and Barbara McKenzie have served as this year's Gala Co-Chairs and directed the large committee of workers, who planned, designed, and implemented Saturday night's affair.
The 2012 Lights of Life Committee.
Mickey and Barbara McKenzie, 2010 Lights of Life Gala Co-Chairs.
"We wanted the 2012 Gala to be a destination," explained Mickey and Barbara McKenzie. "And, with this talented committee is was a 'breeze' to direct. There is just so much talent here in Hopkins County, and it seems like everything fell into place, when everyone got set to do their jobs!"
The theme for this year's gala reflected McKenzie's love for wild game hunting and was termed "Out of Africa," as it took attendees on a royal safari excursion to the continent of Africa, as they were greeted with tablescapes and decorations reflecting the culture of this exotic paradise.
A champagne reception, greeted guests upon arrival at the Civic Center, where they enjoyed Gala tradition "Poinsettia" Champagne Cocktails, and selections of Chicken Fried Lobster with Chipotle Aioli, Grilled Quail Enbrochettes, Hummus with Pita Bread, Fresh Fruit, Melon carvings, crudites, and imported cheeses.
The exquisite main-course dinner, catered by Eddie Deen, of Dallas, featured dinner music presented by Denise Stuart. The menu consisted of a pear and goat cheese salad with mixed greens and topped with candied pecans and Balsamic vinaigrette dressing, Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Wine sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon wrapped Asparagus bundles, Baked Gouda cheese with bow-tie pasta and topped with French fried onions, and an assortment of baked rolls with whipped butter.
Jackie Thornton, Director of the Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The dessert course featured trays delivered to each table and carried out the theme of the night with: Demitasse cups of White & Chocolate Mousse, Mini-Chocolate Pudding Cake with a Raspberry or Carmel Sauce, White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Zebra Stripes, Butter Cake Cupcakes Topped with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing, Chocolate Glazed Butterfinger Candy Pieces, and Peanut Butter Iced Truffles Topped with a "Safari Inspired" Animal Iced Sugar Cookies. The dessert course was catered by The Kitchen at Preston Trails.
Throughout the evening locally owned and operated Crump Valley Winery featured a selection of their signature wines, domestic and imported beers, and choices of ice tea, lemon water, and other non-alcoholic selections.
Following dinner, the program featured comments from Memorial Hospital Foundation Board Chair, Arvis Tanton, and a long list of "thank-you's" from Gala Committee Co-Chairs, Mickey and Barbara McKenzie, who named the twelve honorees, featured in this year's calendar.
Tanton told the group that funds from this year's event, would be designated for the purchase of Therapeutic Hypothermia Equipment for Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, that is used to lower body temperature in cardiac patients, preserving brain function and improved neurological outcomes, for advanced recovery times, in cardiac arrests. Use of the new equipment will be under the supervision of Dr. Jeffery Gladden and Advanced Heart Care. "Not only does this equipment save lives, but it also provides another valuable 'cutting edge' service to this community and the greater Hopkins County area," denoted Tanton. "We felt with the high number of cardiac patients in this community, this addition to our facility would enhance life-saving techniques for our friends, neighbors, and family members."
Tanton then introduced the Sulphur Springs High School students who served as the valet parking team, who were under the direction of Wanda Galyean and Craig and Jennifer Roberts.
The Live Auction began at promptly 8:30 p.m., and featured a list of thirteen outstanding lots, that created an upward spiral of bidding for great trips, sports memorabilia, floral designs for the home, and gourmet dinners. The Live Auction Committee, Chaired by T.C. & Sally Hamilton, featured something for everyone and demanded record breaking prices. The total for the Live Auction exceeded all expectations with almost $48,000.00 paid for the lots. Highest priced item was the Mystery Destination Package, that featured three couples being "jetted" on a private jet to somewhere special to enjoy an evening of fun friendship, and fine dining at a five-star restaurant. The package was purchased by Roger Elliott.
Meanwhile, the Silent Auction, that had drawn a record number of lots, was underway for bidding pleasure, in the back foyer of the Civic Center, and featured items donated by local businesses, including jewelry, art pieces, paintings, and other one-of-a-kind purchases.
Entertainment and Dancing, provided by "Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes," from Austin, Texas, completed the exquisite evening, as they performed a number of popular, 1960's, and 1970's songs, to the delight of the crowd!
"I just can't thank everyone enough!" expressed an exhausted Jackie Thornton, Director of the Memorial Hospital Foundation. "Everything was just great and we should exceed our financial goals comfortably, with the generosity of this great, great community that we live in. Where else but in Hopkins County could you find such a talented group of people who give from their hearts, to make it such a wonderful place to live, work, and play?"
Enjoy these additional photos from Saturday night's spectacular event: