The Great Gatsby era wasn't known for any famous duels, but one was in the making Saturday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Alliance's Roaring 20s Affluent Affair.
Chief Nursing Executive Terri Gillespie and Chief Operating Officer Trish McDaniel both had their eye on a beautifully framed H.C. Porter print at the event's silent auction, with all proceeds from the night going to support patient needs and campus beautification.
“It's for a good cause,” Gillespie said. But McDaniel emerged the winner, with the same generous intent.
Dr. Ching-jygh Chen, professor of dermatology, and his wife Lin show off their dance moves.
The silent auction, a drawdown that had dozens holding their breath, and 20s-era dress featuring feather boas and period hats were just part of the fun at the Affluent Affair, hosted by the UMMC Alliance at The Lake House on the Reservoir in Ridgeland.
Over the past 26 years, Alliance projects have included acquisition of art for patient areas, beautification of the chapel located in the Adult Hospital, and creation of a patient needs fund to provide clothing to patients and their families in need, toiletry bags for those unexpectedly staying overnight.
The Alliance also has financially supported the Children's Justice Center, a health literacy project aimed at fighting obesity, and field trips for kids on ventilators at the Batson Children's Hospital. A newer project is support of the Culinary Medicine Student Interest Group, a cooking club providing hands-on cooking demonstrations for School of Medicine students to inform and engage them in healthy food behaviors.
(From left) Heather Griffith, Shana Cook, Vickie Skinner and Kelly Dennis pose in front of a vintage Rolls-Royce.
“We were thrilled with the level of excitement and energy at this year's Affluent Affair,” said Alliance president-elect Vickie Skinner, a project manager in the Office of Faculty Affairs. “We know this event was a dramatic change from past fundraisers, and we're happy it was so well received.”
The event at the Lake House in Ridgeland replaced Taste of the U, a 25-year Alliance institution that over the years raised more than $700,000. Leaders of the nonprofit Alliance decided to take their signature fundraising event in a new direction following last year's Taste, which had run its course but treated the UMMC family to an annual display of diverse cuisine cooked up by employees complemented by vibrant costumes and decorated booths.
Although Taste of the U primarily involved Medical Center employees, students and their families, this year's event targeted the entire metro community. The fundraising goal was $50,000-$75,000.
“Our intention is to have an Affluent Affair every year, but the theme will change each year,” Skinner said.
Kevin Cook, CEO of University Hospitals and Health Systems, saluted the Alliance volunteers for “a phenomenal job” as he took the stage while the band, The River City Hit Squad, took a short break.
“It took a bold vision to step outside Taste of the U,” he told the crowd. “The needs of the state from a clinical point are endless. Organizations like the Alliance help us fill the gap. Your contribution makes a big difference.”
Dr. Vijay Vijayakumar and Dr. C.J. Chen were among those who sampled the buffet and enjoyed the waterfront affair. “The food is good. The ambiance is good. The weather cooperated,” Vijayakumar said.
“We need to continue to do this,” Chen said. “It's for a really good cause.”
Hal Caudell and Martha Allen realize they have winning tickets in the Affluent Affair's drawdown.
The top four winners in the $10,000 drawdown, all getting an equal share of $2,500, were Amanda Wellington Anniston, Martha Allen, Linda McComb and Hal Caudell. Several donated all or part of their winnings back to the Alliance.
It was a fabulous evening, said Alliance president Shana Cook, Cook's wife. “We are so pleased and thankful for the support and energy generated before and during A Roaring '20s Affluent Affair,” she said.
“Without the volunteers and members of the board, the Alliance would not be able to function,” said Jon Albert, UMMC administrator of clinical ancillary services and chair of the event committee.
The board and volunteers spent “countless hours” ensuring the Affluent Affair was a memorable event for everyone, Shana Cook said. She said the Alliance is especially grateful to premier sponsor Sovereign Inc.
The Alliance also hosts a “Masquerade” sale on the UMMC campus that has fast become a popular tradition with employees. The May 2-5 event will bring back favorites such as jewelry, clothing and scarves, and men's and women's accessories, with everything priced at $5.
Stay tuned for the theme of next year's Affluent Affair, organizers say. “We hope this event has set a tone for years to come,” Shana Cook said.
“We believed the Alliance would be able to raise significantly more money with this type of event,” Skinner said. “There are so many unmet needs, and we were only able to support a small portion of those before. Now and going forward we'll be in a better position to get even more involved.“