A party fit for fairy tale princess and friends

Courtesy of Rory Chapman

Enjoying a champagne toast to Hospice of Mercy and its planned hospice residence are, from left, Capital Campaign Champion Jane Pearson, Mercy Health Foundation Development Officer Joy Hess, Mercy Health Foundation Chairwoman Beth Drum and Hospice of Mercy Director Michelle Appenzeller.

All of Durango was living happily ever after last week as we celebrated Once Upon a Snowdown. That was certainly the case on Feb. 4, when Shanan Campbell Wells and her crew at Sorrel Sky Gallery hosted the Fairy Tale Ball. The event was the first fundraiser for the new Hospice of Mercy Home.

The fun started with the invitation: “One upon a time, in a land not so far away, men and women DRESSED UP for cocktail parties. True story, not a fairy tale! Return with us to the fabled days of the grown-up, dress-up cocktail party. Dig out your Little Black Dress, your dashing coat and tie and join us at Sorrel Sky Gallery for martinis, hors d’oeuvres and great conversation.”

The event sold out, and all 160 guests or so obeyed the invitation to gussy up, arriving in their finest fripperies. Many LBDs were donned, along with sequins, beading and lots of glamour. Men were debonair in tuxedos and suits.

Sue Pederson provided the catering and served filet of beef with tapenade crostini, smoked salmon on lemon-cream crostini, sun-dried tomato and arugula crostini, shrimp salad in pastry shells, Mediterranean meatballs with feta-walnut dipping sauce, green lentil hummus, cheddar-blue cheese tortes and crab and artichoke dip, The sweets were chocolate-espresso mini-cupcakes and Oreo Cookie truffle pops. Let’s just say it was a feast fit for royalty.

Karen and Wayne Barger and the staff at Season’s Rotisserie & Grill created the tiny-tini bar, serving concoctions such as the Red Riding Hood (Chopin vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice), Snow White (Chopin vodka, lemon juice and Lady Grey syrup, garnished with edible silver glitter), Big Bad Wolf (Frangelico, chocolate liqueur and Chopin wheat vodka) and the Shrek (Rye Chopin, sour apple, lemon juice and simple syrup.) The tiny-tinis were served in tiny-tini glasses donated by the Wells Group.

The libations were donated by A&L Coors, Republic National Distributing and Southern Distributing Co.

Guest bartenders Oige Kennedy, the Fort Lewis College head men’s soccer coach, Zane Wells, the assistant men’s soccer coach, Cesar Rivas Sandoval, the FLC head football coach, and Ben Shoemaker were kept hopping.

There was a short break from all the vodka with a champagne toast proferred by Kirk Komick and the Rochester Hotel.

Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother even made an appearance thanks to Terry Bacon and Debra Parmenter.

All the fun was to support something pretty serious. Hospice of Mercy has been talking about creating a residence where people who are dying and their families will have a place to stay in their final days for almost 20 years. In December, Mercy Health Foundation and Hospice of Mercy announced that the time to start is now.

They have begun a $4.3 million campaign to build an 11,000 square foot, 12 private suite residence, complete with gardens, a nondenominational chapel, community kitchen and rooms for private gatherings.

I had the opportunity to interview Michelle Appenzeller, the director of Hospice of Mercy, several months ago. Her stories about how hospice care helps people die in dignity, living every day to the fullest, and how families get the support they need to deal with the loss, were powerful and energizing.

As of right now, the closest similar facility is 170 miles away in Grand Junction. Sheer geography necessitates having one closer, so it’s convenient for everyone involved in the death.

The capital campaign is headed up by radiation oncologist Dr. Steven Bush, with assistance from two well known and beloved locals, Dick and Jane Pearson. The Pearsons have experienced the value of hospice care while dealing with dying parents. Their smiling faces make everyone feel good about hospice, and that was truly clear at the party.

The fête brought in about $7,000, a great total for the first official fundraiser of the capital campaign. The campaign is currently in its quiet, leadership phase, but I’ll be sure to keep y’all updated as it goes along. The goal is to open the residence in 2014.

To learn more, call the Mercy Health Foundation at 764-2800. Chief Development Officer Karen Midkiff, Development Officer Joy Hess and Administrative Assistant Lauri Wilson-Lacy will be glad to tell you all about it.

Don’t forget to save March 14 for Soup for the Soul, the wonderful annual fundraiser for Hospice of Mercy where many local restaurants ladle up some of their yummiest soups, bisques, chowders and stews. This event sells out every year for good reason,so you might want to buy your tickets when you call to learn more about how to give to the hospice residence. (Two birds with one stone, so to speak.)

As the main obituary writer for the Herald, I talk to people virtually every day about the death of their loved ones. To a person, they smile when they talk about the care their whole family received from Hospice of Mercy. This residence will help even more people find something to smile about when remembering the passing of someone they love. And that’s a wonderful gift.

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Celebrating birthdays while everyone else is celebrating Valentine’s Day are Suzanne Parker, Christine Phillips, Kristi Nelson Cohen, Emily McCardle, Melinda Johnson, Gary Steinbach, Brigitte Wahl, Brenda Nelson, Toby Aten, Rachael Bennett, Rowean Crader,Mitch Guffey, Virginia Peterson and Randy Black.

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Today marks the running of the balls, the red balls, that is. And it’s not in Pamplona, Spain, but right up the road at Durango Mountain Resort.

A project of La Plata County’s four Rotary Clubs, the Red Ball Express has poured more than $300,000 into local nonprofits and projects.

This kind of got by me – is an email too much to ask? But there is still time to get your tickets if you’re up at the mountain today. They’re $5 a piece, with two numbers assigned to each ticket as they’re entered into the computer.

If your two balls are the first in the chute, you win $5,000. The second two will bring the lucky winner $2,000, and the last two a sweet thousand bucks.

The balls will run at 4 p.m.

Because this is the 10th anniversary of the Red Ball Express, there’s a special twist this year. Two balls will be randomly picked before the start of the race. If those two balls are the first two in the chute, the grand prize winner will get a whopping $25,000.

Now isn’t that worth taking a drive up to Purg?

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There’s no pressure on the husbands in these couples, who have to do something extra special for anniversaries that fall near Valentine’s Day. Nope, no pressure at all for Kurt and Lisa Raymond, Lynn and Jo Weger and Ken and Mary Ellen Portz.

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers. Remember making those boxes where everyone put your valentines in grade school? Consider this a valentine in all your boxes. I hope you all have very good chocolate in store.

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For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.

Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. If you are submitting an item for preview, please send it with briefs in the subject line and email it to herald@durangoherald.com.

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