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Monday, Feb. 13, 2017



Celebration a magical night for special kids

It will be a night to remember for children who have had experiences they no doubt wish they could forget. Children with special needs and those who have been hospitalized at Shriner’s Hospital and University Health will remember Friday, Feb. 24, as the night their world became a more magical place. They may think they are going to the El Karubah Shrine Temple on S. Lakeshore Drive, but once they get there … oh, my.

“When the children arrive, they will be greeted at the entrance and brought to the front door in a limo furnished by Rose- Neath Funeral Home. Military escorts from the 93rd Bomb Squadron from Barksdale Air Force Base will walk them in,” said Jerry DeFatta, the former potentate of El Karubah, who organized the event with the help of Tia’s Hope, a national charitable organization, and Margaritaville Casino.

After the walk down the red carpet, the guests will be greeted by Cosplayers costumed as superheroes and Disney characters. There will be a buffet, dancing, all sorts of games, and Amberly Withers is donating a four-tiered cake. Last year, 70 children participated, and this year the sponsors expect around 100, said Margaritaville’s Ashley Henning, who is the daughter of a Shiner.

It all started with a very special shopping trip to Margaritaville as each girl selected the perfect dress from more than 100 beautiful formal dresses donated by individuals and local businesses, some still bearing the sales tags. Then, each girl’s dress was tailored to a fit suitable for the runway by Dione Gillespie, Margaritaville’s wardrobe supervisor.

“Every child will receive a mask and a Tia’s Hope bag of goodies,” said Henning. Around 50 individual volunteers and numerous business are helping out, Henning said.

The guys can wear a suit or they can borrow a tuxedo. All the children will get gifts and jewelry – necklaces for the young ladies and bow ties and bracelets for the young gentlemen, said Henning. Jessica Zylicz, with Chloe and Isabel, has provided jewelry, and both Azarue’s Bridal & Formal and Squire’s Formal Wear have donated dresses and rental menswear.

The day of the masquerade, all participating girls are invited to the “Memories Beauty Shop” at Shriner’s Hospital, where four stylists from Vanity and Co. and pro makeup/esthetician Henning and her Younique Presenters team will do fun makeovers, and Melinda Matt from Bridgette’s Salon will do manicures. Boys can also get a style and a manicure, Henning said.

“Events like this offer some reprieve for the children that attend them,” said Ede Ravich, interim executive director of Tia’s Hope, a Los Angeles-based charity that partners with 10 hospitals in California, New York, Wisconsin, Nevada and the two hospitals in Shreveport. “Having memorable moments of joy where the battle can be put to rest temporarily is something we hope is special to everyone that attends.”

In addition to the gifts, all the children will be able to take away 5x7-inch photos of the big night and have them posted on social media. TapSnap allows for photos to use props, editing, various changeable backgrounds and handwriting directly on photos that can be posted online or printed, said Henning.

After the ball is over, “The girls will be able to keep their dresses. The boys will only be able to keep their bow tie donated from Margaritaville, but they will have to return the tux rental to Squire’s,” said Henning. All the children get to keep the jewelry and gift bags.

Tickets to the event are free, and it is open to all special needs children. Visit www. eventbrite.com and search “Memories in the Moonlight Masquerade Ball” to register.

“The best thing is to interact with these kids and make them feel that people want to dance with them,” said Henning. “To watch these kids make friends and the parents, as well, to have this time to socialize.”

Details and photos of the Masquerade will be available on line by March 6 at www. facebook.com/tiashopeLA.

– Kathleen Ward


For more information about Tia’s Hope go to www.tiashope. org. For information about the Shiners, visit www.elkarubah.org.

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