story and photos by Stephen Carter, special to The City Wire
Despite icy road conditions in Northwest Arkansas, more than 1,000 guests attended Mercy Health Foundation’s 20th annual charity ball, O’Night Divine, Saturday (Dec. 7). The gala is the foundation’s signature fundraiser.
“Funds raised at the charity ball will support local projects and charitable care in Northwest Arkansas,” said Eric Pianalto, who was recently named president of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.
Dick Trammel, a Mercy board member, challenged Charity Ball attendees to raise $75,000 in 10 minutes. Giving quickly exceeded the foundation’s goal, as attendees raised $125,600, including a $50,000 commitment from Walmart. All funds raised during that period will support Mercy’s Sister to Sister fund.
The Sister to Sister fund helps with cancer care and breastfeeding services and education. Women approved for financial assistance will have access to products at the Mercy’s Sisters Women’s Health Boutique located in Mercy’s Clinic in Bentonville.
“Every year we pick a project that truly can change lives,” said Clark Ellison, regional vice president for the Mercy Foundation. “This one hits close to home for so many. Daughters, sisters, friends and mothers around our region will be helped because of the generosity of our NWA Community.”
"What amazing support from our donors. Every dollar given will stay right here in our community helping somebody’s son, mom or grandparent. Families across our area will benefit because those gathered were so willing to give. We are very grateful," commented Mercy spokeswoman Jessica Eldred.
Members of Kansas City based Quixotic performed throughout the event. Quixotic, conceived by founder Anthony Magliano is an ensemble of artists from various disciplines including aerial acrobatics, dance, fashion, film, music and visual effects.
Four-time Grammy nominee Jewel capped off the night with live music. Jewel recently released a Greatest Hits album, along with a holiday album, “Let it Snow.” This month she will join “The Sing Off” as a new judge.
“This charity ball gives a time for our supporters and Mercy to bring their talents and strengths together and help us better to do our work,” said Jessica Eldred, a media contact at Mercy.