COLLINSVILLE — The American Cancer Society’s 45th Annual Mardi Gras Ball welcomed nearly 800 people Feb. 17 at the Gateway Convention Center.
The event was hosted by John Simmons and the law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC. The projected $323,000 raised for the society is the most funds raised in the 45-year history of the event.
“My experience with Gateway Center was entirely positive,” said Roger Lewis, Simmons Hanly Conroy executive assistant and event planner of the Mardi Gras Ball. “From event planning to catering needs to specifics of facility usage, every aspect, question and concern was addressed in a helpful and flexible manner. The underlying philosophy seems to be what can be done for the client, rather than the too-often experienced resistance and lists of everything which cannot be done so often encountered at other venues.”
This was the first year the ball was held at Gateway Center. The money raised by the ball was given through a combination of corporate sponsorships, private donations, tickets to the event and proceeds from the live and silent auctions. In addition, volunteers from the firm, Alton Little Theatre and the local chapter of the American Cancer Society donated many hours to plan and organize the event.
This year the American Cancer Society utilized GiveSmart for its silent auction items. GiveSmart is a system guests used on their smartphones to easily place bids on desired items. The system allows the simplicity of placing a “Max Bid” for guest to enter the highest price you are willing to bid for the item and the GiveSmart system will automatically bid for you up to that maximum amount.
The live auction was emceed by Dewayne Staats, anchor of the Emmy Award-winning Sun Sports telecast and broadcaster of the Tampa Bay Rays. Live auction items included a Classic 1980 Pontiac Trans Am, Super Bowl 50 Trip to San Francisco, Trip to London, Cardinals Baseball Suite, Custom Made Putting Green, Pure Labrador Puppy, Nilo Farms Hunting Package and more.
To highlight the New Orleans theme, the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was the evening’s entertainment. The band was cofounded by Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergen and made their debut in their hometown of Ventura, Calif., in April 1993, helping to usher in the swing revival. Their music has been used in countless films, television shows, and trailers, including “Swingers,” “The Wild,” “Family Guy,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Ally McBeal,” as well as multiple uses of songs for dance routines on “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”
The menu for the evening was created by Ovations, the in-house caterer for Gateway Center. The salad for the evening was Ovations’ signature Gateway Greens, consisting of mesclun spring mix, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot curls, feta crumbles, homemade croutons, and champagne vinaigrette dressing. The entrée of the evening was a grilled beef tenderloin topped with mushroom demi-glace, accompanied by dauphinoise potatoes and roasted asparagus with red velvet cake for dessert.
Both Gateway Center and Ovations employees had Mardi Gras staff and guests praising their service.
“In terms of the staff members, everyone — and I mean everyone — was friendly and willing to do whatever was necessary to address our requests,” Lewis said. “I would recommend to anyone the use of Gateway for an event. Stop looking anywhere else.”
For information, contact Gateway Center office at (618) 345-8998, ext. 127, or visit www.acsMardiGrasBall.com.