By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune lifestyle editor
Kokomo — It’s a delicious meal with an even more delicious payoff: $5,000, to be exact. But the cause is worth more than the cash attendees have a chance of winning. Kokomo YMCA is hosting its annual $5,000 Friday night full of fun and fundraising for YMCA’s Strong Kids campaign. The event helps put YMCA’s services, children’s programs and memberships in the hands of those who need it.
Lisa Gauger, Kokomo YMCA associate executive director, said the $5,000 attendees can win stems from the dinner’s raffle and silent auction, but the benefits the dinner brings to children is the real prize.
“The money from this dinner helps families who didn’t have memberships. It helps families come in and enjoy things in a stress-free environment,” Gauger said. “There are hardships that happen for people: loss of jobs, single motherhood and poverty. We were able to help a single mother with her care here, and because of that she was able to keep her job. It also gives kids a chance to participate in sports programs and focus on building character, sportsmanship and teamwork. It gives kids something to be a part of and offers them opportunities to have a better quality of life, it’s a way for families to come in and do things together.”
Erin Larison, communication and relationship director at Kokomo YMCA, said the dinner raises the money to help YMCA make a positive impact in students’ lives. She said YMCA is also putting a unique twist on the traditional raffle. She said 145 tickets to the event will be sold, one per each couple, and an option to buy up to five “insurance” raffle tickets.
“All the numbers are dumped into our $5,000 Dinner tumbler. Throughout the course of the evening, numbers are drawn and eliminated from the competition until there are only five numbers left. The five [remaining] couples move to our winner’s table, and that’s where the fun begins,” Larison said. “The couple can start bargaining here — do they split the money five ways and each take home $1,000, or do they press their luck and hope their number is not the next one eliminated? All five couples have to be in agreement or the emcee will continue to eliminate numbers.”
Larison said even if you lose out on the big bucks early in the evening, watching the winner’s table is entertainment in itself and there’s more than raffles, round tables and food to find for fun things to do.
“It’s a blast, watching [the couples] wheel and deal. Some years, we have people who say split it evenly and other times, we have people just positive they’ll walk away with all $5,000,” Larison said. “We also have a huge silent auction throughout the course of the night as well.”
Larison added Kokomo YMCA hopes to raise $20,000 for Strong Kids Campaign Friday night.
For more information and where you can purchase tickets, call Kokomo YMCA at 765-457-4447.