By Marianne Mueller Reporter
ROCKTON - Colorful decor, food full of New Orleans Flair, friendly conversation, lively music resulted in transporting guests to Bourbon Street at the 2014 Hope Foundation Touch of Spring to a Mardi Gras Celebration.An evening brimming with fun included a social hour, dinner, dancing, 50/50 raffles, an early bird drawing, silent auction and awarding of cash prizes.Serving as the Master of Ceremony Andy Gannon once again kept the action moving at a smooth pace. Event Coordinators Kelly Rosik and Diane Eymann pulled out all of the stops as event coordinators.Masks, beads, and laughter encompassed the American Center on Saturday evening. March 1. Hope Foundation President Ladel Cass gave a warm welcome. He opened by expressing thanks to Andy Gannon. President Cass had fun with the crowd.“Someone asked me if kids in Louisina get time off of school for Mardi Gras. It turns out that they have Friday through March 5 off to celebrate.“In the 14-year history of the Hope Foundation Touch of Spring, this is the first time we have ever sold out of tickets."The Touch of Spring is our only major fundraiser," Cass said. "In the past 14 years the Hope Foundation has given an estimated $70,000 to Hononegah High School."We have used the money toward technology, books, or other educational needs. It is the fifth year that the Gem Shop has donated a ring. Over $7,000 in scholarships have been awarded from Modersohn Scholarship ring donations." President Cass recognized Superintendent Lynn Gibson, Assistant Superintendent, Kim Suedbeck, Principal, and Todd Hencsik of Hononegah High School.He further acknowledged Bill Lewis, Kathy Eckmann, and Steve Cofoid and School Board President, Dave Kurlinkis. ABC Catering and Hononegah Alum-DJ, Jason Chance who kept tunes spinning in a timely manner.Special gratitude was given to Taylor Freezer for use of slush machines. Brad Bond and the Rockton American Legion each played an important role in making the evening's event happen. President Cass introduced the 2014 Hope Foundation Board of Directors. Tom Polaski serves as Vice President; Mark Payne is Treasurer; and Christine Lawver is Secretary.Trustees include: Ray Ferguson, Kelley Beard, Jim Griffin, Fay Meiborg, Kendra Greene, Cathy Bellich, Gretchen Milner, Shelly Curtis, Chuck Gilbert, and Millicent Christopher.Cash prize winners were announced througout the evening. Near the events conclusion four $500 winners and one $2,000 Grand Prize winners names were revealed.Tom and Becky Reynolds emerged the grand prize winners. Dennis Lowery was the lucky recipient of a stunning ring fashioned by the Gem Shop. Fitting the Mardi Gras theme the ring is handcrafted in 14K white gold featuring an asymmetrical contemporary design.The center stone is a green princess cut diamond (.83 carat) and is accented with 12 accent blue diamonds. It is valued at $2,250. Over $350,000 in tax exempt contributions from various sources has been distributed since 1998. Funds are distributed in areas of a teacher grant program, endowment funds and scholarships.Tutorials, a 2003 class project- Heritage Mural, new technology utilized in classrooms just taps the surface of good things done by the HOPE Foundation. In 2011 they provided funding to help purchase retractable batting cages, and two portable AED’s for the Athletic Department allowing availability to traveling teams. Last year's Touch of Spring added over $10,000 to Hope's programs and endowment fund. This year's Touch of Spring resulted in pure fun in the name of a great cause- furthering educational needs at Hononegah High School.