The 2011 Starlight Gala was a record-breaker on several counts, eclipsing the previous eight iterations of the event in terms of the rate of ticket sales, attendance and net proceeds raised for the non-profit Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter.
The 9th Starlight Gala raised a projected $225,000 for the Children’s Shelter in cash and pledges. The event sold out about a month in advance, drawing a crowd of about 600 supporters to the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. The Starlight Gala is the Children’s Shelter’s largest fund-raiser. This year’s proceeds represent nearly 10 percent of the Children’s Shelter’s operating budget.
“We are extremely gratified to see this kind of response from the community,” said Scott Tassani, President of the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter Board of Directors and Vice President, Walmart for General Mills, the 2011 Starlight Gala’s Presenting Sponsor. “General Mills is passionate about nourishing lives and making a difference in the communities where our employees live and work. So it is heartening to see so many regional partners come together to create a safe haven for children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected. The success of this night will pay benefits throughout the year, by giving these children an environment in which they can begin to heal.”
The Starlight Gala featured a reception, dinner, silent & live auctions, a special appeal by Dick Trammel and a 45-minute performance by Country Music Star Billy Dean and dancing to the music of local favorite Leah and the Mojo Doctors. Matt Turner, evening anchor on local NBC-affiliate KNWA-TV (Channel 51), served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
Earlier in the day, Dean charmed about 20 kids at the Children’s Shelter with an acoustic rendition of the most recent of his 11 Top 10 Country hits, “Let Them Be Little,” which extols the virtues and value of allowing children to have a healthy childhood. Dean fondly recounted the encounter before he performed the song for the Gala crowd.
The Gala garnered dozens of sponsorships from major Northwest Arkansas corporations, organizations and individuals.
In addition, the Gala’s silent and live auctions resulted in fierce bidding for attractive donated items, such as NASCAR adventures, catered gourmet dinner parties, fun and exotic vacation getaways, Major League Baseball junkets and a trip to the 2012 NCAA Final Four.
Community activist Dick Trammel of Arvest Bank also made a direct appeal to the crowd to raise $25,000, enough money to pay for one meal a day for 48 children for a year. The Children’s Shelter currently can care for up to 32 children, but later this month, the organization will be moving to a new home that immediately will increase that capacity to 48 children. Trammel pointed out to the crowd that adding capacity leads to increased operating costs.
On April 28, 2011, the Children’s Shelter will celebrate the Grand Opening of its new home at Highfill, which was financed by a $13.5 million construction grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
The new complex, which sits on an 81-acre tract about two miles west of the Children’s Shelter’s original location, includes:
· A 42,000-square-foot residential/education center (the Donald W. Reynolds Emergency Shelter).
· An 18,000-square-foot recreation center, with a full gymnasium and multi-purpose rooms (the Donald W. Reynolds Recreation Center).
· A 5,500-square-foot warehouse/maintenance building.
· Outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playground areas.
Once open, the new Children’s Shelter complex will increase the organization’s capacity by 50 percent and is “scalable” to a maximum capacity of 72 beds (a 125 percent increase over the current number).
About Billy Dean
Billy Dean’s insightful songwriting, distinctively clear voice and masterful instrumental gifts have earned him accolades from many Country Music organizations and countless devoted fans.
A native of Quincy, Fla., Dean was born into a musical family and was raised appreciating the value of music and has a diverse array of musical influences.
After attending college on a basketball scholarship (at East Central Junior College in Decatur, Miss., where he majored in physical education) he played the club circuit along Florida’s Gulf Coast and entered national talent contests as a vehicle for his music. In 1982, he made the finals of the Wrangler Country Star Search and moved to Nashville in 1983. In 1988, Dean won as a male vocalist champ on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search.”By 1990, he had recorded his first Top 5 Country hit: “Only Here For A Little While.”
Since then, Dean has transcended genres with his unique repertoire, earning numerous awards, including:
· Academy of Country Music (ACM) Song of the Year (“Somewhere In My Broken Heart”)
· ACM New Male Vocalist of the Year.
· Country Music Association (CMA) awards.
· BMI Pop Awards.
· BMI Song Awards.
· BMI Million Air Plays Award.
· Country Music Television Rising Star Award.
· NSAI Song of The Year.
· A Grammy Award for a Country tribute, “Amazing Grace.”
· Two gold albums and one platinum album.
Dean’s appeal reaches beyond the music world. He has appeared on numerous television shows as well as made-for-TV movies, including:
· “Blue Valley Songbird”
· “A Face to Kill For”
· “Lois & Clark”
· “One Life to Live”
· “Diagnosis Murder”
· “Good Morning America”
· “The Tonight Show”
· “The Montel Williams Show”
After 12 albums and 11 Top 10 singles, spanning 18 years, Dean has founded the publishing company BDMG (Billy Dean Music Group). Dean continues to make contributions to the Country Music world by building brands with music and empowering children, by being a spokesperson for Averitt Cares For Kids, and Sunkist’s Take A Stand Program.
His latest album “Let Them Be Little” was inspired by those closest to him, his two children (Hannah & Eli), and his wife, Stephanie. Dean’s illustrious career was recently recognized with a proclamation from the State of Tennessee House of Representatives.
Billy Dean’s 11 Top 10 Country hits:
· “Only Here for a Little While” – No. 3 – from the album “Young Man” (1990)
· “Somewhere in My Broken Heart” – No. 3 – from the album “Young Man” (1991)
· “You Don’t Count the Cost” – No. 4 – from the album “Billy Dean” (1991)
· “Only the Wind” – No. 4 – from the album “Billy Dean” (1992)
· “Billy the Kid” – No. 4 – from the album “Billy Dean” (1992)
· “If There Hadn’t Been You” – No. 3 – from the album “Billy Dean” (1992)
· “Tryin’ to Hide a Fire in the Dark” – No. 6 – from the album “Fire in the Dark” (1993)
· “We Just Disagree” – No. 9 – from the album “Fire in the Dark” (1994)
· “It’s What I Do” – No. 5 – from the album “It’s What I Do” (1996)
· “That Girl’s Been Spyin’ on Me” – No. 4 – from the album “It’s What I Do” (1996)
· “Let Them Be Little” – No. 8 – from the album “Let Them Be Little” (2004)
About the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter
The Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter is a private, non-profit organization that provides 24-hour emergency residential care to children and teens from throughout Arkansas who are victims of abuse or neglect. The shelter, which currently serves about 400 children per year, has served more than 5,500 children since opening its doors at Vaughn (southwest of Bentonville) in 1993. Children may stay up to 45 days in a six-month period, until they can be placed in foster care or return to their families. For more information, visit www.nwacs.org.