United Way of La Porte County Gives a Nod to South America with “Carnivale” Gala

Photos of the 2014 United Way of La Porte County Fall Gala can be viewed here! 

It was quite a festive night at the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa. Brightly colored feathers and beads, face masks, Latin American music and dancing...yes friends...it was Carnivale.

This was the theme of the 4th annual United Way of La Porte County Fundraiser at the Blue Chip Casino. With it being the biggest event of the year for the United Way of La Porte County, all of the stops were pulled out to make sure that everyone had an unforgettable experience while still supporting a great cause.

"Tonight we hope to raise over $100,000 for the United Way and get all of that money back out into the community for the program that we fund," Dave Sisk Manager of Community Engagement for the United Way of La Porte County said.

With over 600 people at the sold out event, it seems like that goal is very attainable. The funds generated from the night's event will help make different things happen in the community like: give women who have suffered from domestic abuse a safe place to stay at Stepping Stone Shelter; veteran families will receive emergency assistance; disabled adults can get jobs with Michiana Resources; young students get meals through the La Porte Salvation Army Backpack Program; youths get sent through the Teen Court program instead of the Juvenile Probation system; Meals on Wheels can continue to serve seniors in La Porte County; and wheelchair ramps are built for seniors so they can access their homes.

Ric Federighi of WIMS-AM 1420 and Dave Sisk tended to the crowd, thanking sponsors and talking about the great programs that everyone was supporting just by being there. One such program, Kindergarten Countdown, gives children in families that are at or below the poverty level a chance at success. Taught by veteran kindergarten teachers, these four-week summer camps teach kids socialization and academic skills and the students in turn develop confidence, higher literacy skills, and a desire to learn more.

"We just pulled out the stops for this fundraiser," Kris Pate, Executive Director for the United Way of La Porter County said. "It's at a beautiful venue, there is always great high quality entertainment here, and we really canvas the community asking for donations and there are great auction items and great food from local restaurants...what's not to love? It's so festive and that adds to the fun. And people get a kick out of dressing up and having a great time. If you know that you are doing something great for your community and at the same time you are having a great time, there's no better combination."

Throughout the night there were many things for guests to do. Entertainment was provided by Chicago Samba with talented dancers that moved along to fabulous live music played by the ensemble's band. The dancers would often come out into the crowd and pull up a brave guest or two to cut a rug.

Food and drink vendors lined the walls of the Stardust Event Center. Local restaurants showed off their best dishes and the liquor and beer vendors had specialty cocktails and great brews. For those who weren't in the dancing or dining moods, they could take part in a TV raffle and there were many things to bid on in the silent auction that took place just outside of the Event Center. There were so many great items to bid on like autographed pictures, high quality liquors, sports memorabilia, gift baskets, and more.

There was also a live auction led by Federighi and auctioneer extraordinaire Greg Engstrom, owner of United Country – Engstrom Realty & Auction, where people could bid on fantastic vacations to places like Ireland and Cabo San Lucas, a NASCAR experience, three night in Las Vegas and a $500 VISA gift card, and a winery trip in California.

"I think there are so many people that need help and the United Way of La Porte County, which we at the Blue Chip partner with, really helps those who are underprivileged," Jack Elia, Assistant General Manager at Blue Chip Casino said. "We are happy to be partnered with them and be part of what they do."

Be sure to come back to the 2015 when the gala theme draws on the culture of Asia!

Carnivale Sponsors: Sullair, Dillon Transport, Sauers Auto Group, NIPSCO, Franciscan St. Anthony Michigan City, United Beverage, Republic National Distributors; WIMS Radio, LaPorteCountyLife.com, Simko Signs, Rusthead Design; United Country – Engstrom Realty & Auction, Moet/Hennessy, Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa

Restaurant and Liquor participants: Long Beach Country Club, Pottawatomie Country Club, Top Dog, Spire, Blue Chip, Galveston Steak House, Suzie's Café and Catering, Bit O Swiss, Eli's Cheesecake, Maxine's, Auturo's Baked Good & More, Darna Liquor, Southern Wine & Spirits, Glazer's, Indiana Beverage