YMCA gala 'A Magical Evening'

February 25, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Neal Glessner peers inside the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Saturday at YMCA gala at Hager Hall.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Men and women dressed in their gala best checked out the 2012 denim blue Volkswagen Beetle parked at the front of the ballroom.

More than 350 Hagerstown YMCA supporters had gathered Saturday night for the organization’s gala fundraiser at Hager Hall, where the cheeky car was the grand prize.

Ann Marie Downey of Williamsport stood out among one group of Beetle browsers. The light blue of her floral jacket matched perfectly the hue of the VW.

“People were commenting on that. I said, ‘Well gee, I guess I am destined to win,’” Downey joked.

Downey and her husband, Lee Downey, have attended the annual event, which is in its 26th year, many times.

A retired teacher, Ann Marie Downey said she appreciates the Y’s programs for children and youth as well as its commitment to promoting health and fitness.

“The YMCA is a wonderful organization in the community. At this time, with fitness at the forefront, having a safe place to offer that to our youth is really important. And it’s such a beautiful facility,” she said.

The gala’s theme was “A Magical Evening.” A magician mingled with attendees performing tricks. Magician hats served as centerpieces, with playing cards and stuffed bunnies and birds rising from them.

Gretchen Meinelschmidt of Hagerstown, who attended with her husband, Cort Meinelschmidt, said she “loved” the theme.

“I always look forward to it and it’s so different this year. I love the magic of it,” she said. “It’s magical, fun. Mysterious, almost.”

Like Downey, Meinelschmidt said she likes to support the Y’s programs for children and youth.

“Having kids myself, I know how important it is for kids to have a place that’s safe and productive. The Y is awesome. It’s a good thing,” Meinelschmidt said.

Hagerstown YMCA Executive Director Michael Flicek said he anticipated the event would raise around $30,000. Proceeds will go toward youth programs such as sports teams and swimming lessons. The Y provides sponsorships for children who need them so they can participate in programs at a reduced rate. Flicek said more than 850 kids received sponsorships in the past year.

“We want children to be able to participate in programs that develop character, that teach them about respect and how to play fair. Our programs instill those values,” Flicek said.

Tickets to the fundraiser cost $295 per couple and included dinner, dancing and a chance to win the Beetle. Ticketholders’ ticket numbers were drawn at regular intervals throughout the evening until only one was left standing.

Kent and Katherine Oliver of Hagerstown held the final ticket and won the new car.

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