During its third annual Casino Royale—Vegas Baby! event, Kids Central brought all the fun and excitement of Vegas casino games to the Ocala Hilton ballroom. The night was one of classic Vegas vibes and style. The complimentary cocktail hour and impressive array of hors d’oeuvres put guests in the mood to gamble the night away for a good cause. The doors of the Hilton’s ballroom opened to reveal a room full of casino games and a Sinatra-style performer on the stage. The crooner helped set the mood with 1950s classics, and later he transformed himself into Elvis, performing all his greatest hits.
Kevin Sheilley, Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership CEO and Kids Central board member explains, “Donation dollars to Kids Central give the organization the ability to provide childhood experiences to kids who have experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment through no fault of their own. These unrestricted funds can also be used to give parents and caregivers the help they need to care for their children safely.”
Kids Central’s Casino Royale night raised approximately $25,000. Debra Wise-Velez, deputy chief of programs, observes, “The money raised through Casino Royale will go a long way.” Kids Central cares for these vulnerable children in Marion, Citrus, Hernando, Lake and Sumter Counties.
Funds raised help meet the unfunded needs of families. For example, when a grandmother ends up with her three grandchildren and the mother isn’t around, Kids Central can use fundraised dollars to purchase school uniforms, repair her oven or allow the children to participate in extracurricular activities. The money can be used to help any family they are working with, whether the children are being served through a community prevention program or are in foster care.
The financial needs of abused, neglected or abandoned children in Marion County are dire. In Marion County alone, there are 258 children in licensed foster care. There are 315 children in approved care with a relative or non-relative. In 2016 alone, there were 7,338 child abuse reports in Marion County.
Small wonder then that so many Ocala/Marion County movers and shakers were dressed to impress for an evening devoted to such a worthy cause. Nicole Pulcini Mason, director of community affairs for Kids Central, states, “Casino Royale is an exciting evening. However, it’s important to remember that we do this for the kids, and without our sponsors, it wouldn’t be possible. Our dedicated supporters allow us to give children and families what they need, which isn’t covered by other funding.”
Platinum Event Sponsors included Front Street Commercial Realty and Bouchard Insurance in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield. There was an impressive list of sponsors, including Ocala Style Magazine.
At the end of the night, the gamers turned their winnings in for raffle tickets to use in an effort to win fabulous prizes. Prizes included an Adena Springs Golf and Country Club golf outing for four, a Trilogy at Ocala Preserve golf and dinner package and many other valuable raffle items. Make plans now to attend next year’s event.
To learn more, volunteer, donate or find out about being a foster parent, visit kidscentralinc.org.