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Washington Voices

Pumpkin Ball is benefit for children

Adults will be celebrating Halloween early, dressing up in ball gowns and tuxedos Oct. 24 for the sixth annual Pumpkin Ball to benefit the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery and Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Over the past five years, the event has raised more than $800,000. “The Pumpkin Ball is a fun, elegant community event that supports a very serious cause,” said event director Kathy Maurer. “In these tough economic times, the vital services provided by the children’s hospital and Vanessa Behan are more important than ever. The Pumpkin Ball is a great way for individuals and businesses to support these two outstanding organizations.”

Held at the Spokane Convention Center, the ball includes a champagne reception, gourmet dining, silent and live auctions, and dancing to Craig Volosing’s The Goodtime Band. Auction items include front-row tickets to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, a “Lion King” theater package, as well as travel packages and gourmet dining experiences.

Steve Gevurtz, an artist and former Vanessa Behan board member, plans to donate a bronze sculpture called “Just So.”

One of the highlights of the evening is a pumpkin carving competition among teams of area physicians and community leaders. Carvers include Bloomsday founder Don Kardong, Hoopfest founder Rick Steltenpohl, and wine experts Don Townsend and John Allen. Last year, the winning pumpkin was created by Dr. Cecilia Fry, of Pediatric Critical Care Associates, and Dr. Vickie Volz, a pediatric development specialist for Providence Physician Services.

“We chose E.T. as our theme,” Fry said, “His story is relevant. He was far from home and afraid, like the children at the hospital or the crisis nursery. Still, E.T. and the children find compassion.”

The carvers are allowed to prepare their pumpkins in advance but must carve onsite for 10 to 15 minutes. “Don has experience with carving tools that he got in Asia,” said John Allen, “We haven’t come up with a design idea yet, but the sky’s the limit.”