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Fund raiser to benefit Special Populations

By Staff | Mar 15, 2013

Time is running out to pick up tickets to the upcoming 10th Annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Dinner Dance Fund-raiser to benefit the Special Populations program.

Hosted by the Guardian Angels, the event takes place from 6:30 to 10 p.m. next Saturday at the Lake Kennedy Senior Center, at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd. The theme for this year’s fund-raiser is Motown; last year was British Invasion.

Vince Marcucci, president of the Guardian Angels, said the music selection will include the Supremes, the Temptations and other Motown favorites.

“We thought that all those acts would be kind of cool,” he said.

The deejay will also play the best of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

“That everybody asks for all the time,” Marcucci said.

He called the dance a “super friendly event.”

“People mix at tables. There’s plenty of space to spread out,” Marcucci said, adding that the event is also fun for Special Populations participants.

“The really heartwarming thing is seeing our participants there enjoying themselves,” he said. “They love dancing and music, the social component.”

Tickets cost $25 per person and include dinner and dessert. Last year, dinner was bangers and mash to go along with the British Invasion theme. This year’s dinner is chicken marsala, rice pilaf, green beans and salad.

“I really wanted to, but we weren’t able to pull it off,” he said of trying to match the menu with the theme of the dance again.

Hot and cold beverages will be available, along with free BYOB setups.

“For anyone who wants to mix something with ginger ale or tonic,” Marcucci said. “They do bring their wine, their coolers – they have a good time.”

The Cape Coral Caring Center will help serve the dinner.

“We’re going to ask anyone that’s coming to bring a can of food for them,” he said.

A poll after last year’s event revealed that attendees believed there were too many raffles and that the raffles were taking away from the event.

“We decided that since our next fund-raiser is our fashion show and auction, we would move all of our games of chance to that,” Marcucci said.

“This way, they have a lot more dance time,” he said.

There will be one 50/50 raffle. Half of the winnings will go toward Special Populations, and the other half will be divided between three winners.

The dinner raised more than $3,000 last year, with about 120 attending.

“I’d say that’s a little bit more than average,” he said of the turnout in 2012. “We usually average at about 100, if we’re lucky.”

Organizers are hoping to raise between $2,000 and $2,500 this year.

“It’s not just for the food and the music, but to really help out our neighbors with different abilities,” he said.

Marcucci did not know Friday how many tickets had been sold.

“The last week we always do pretty well,” he said. “People come forward.”

According to Marcucci, the Guardian Angels was able to defray some of the costs last year – specifically food and beverage – because it had a sponsor for the dinner. Special Populations, in turn, ended up receiving more funding.

This year, food and beverage total between $700 and $800.

“We’ll always take a sponsor,” he said. “Whatever they come up with.”

Special Populations provides education, employment training and recreation to adults and children with developmental and physical disabilities in Lee.

The Guardian Angels is an all-volunteer organization comprised of parents, friends, area businesses and community leaders. It has been raising funds to help support the programs at Special Populations for more than 17 years.

In the past, raised funds have paid for two 22-passenger buses with wheelchair access, two passenger vans, appliances, equipment and more.

“We really want everybody to be included in everything we do,” Marcucci said of the buses. “This means we can get them to where everybody else is.”

Funds also provide for participant scholarships. He estimated that about $8,000 to $14,000 annually covers scholarships for 11 to 15 participants.

To buy event tickets online, visit: www.myspecialpopulations.org.

People can also contact Special Populations at (239) 574-0574 and pay over the phone with a credit card, or visit in person at 410 Santa Barbara Blvd.