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Monday, May 20, 2019

Once Upon A Time Memories


Sharing joy with special needs children

Margaritaville Resort Casino and Tia’s Hope Foundation are proud to present the fourth annual “Once Upon a Time” Memories Dance for special needs children. This formal ball will be held at 6 p.m. on June 8 at Shriners Temple, 6230 S. Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport.

Children ages 5-25 with special needs are invited to attend. Shriners Hospitals for Children-Shreveport will also be transporting their in-house patients for a fun night away from the hospital.

Squires will lend their tuxedos and staff to dress the boys in style, while the girls attending will get to “shop” for their favorite dress from donations made from the community. Alterations will be provided if needed.

On the day of the ball, all participating girls are invited to the “Memories Beauty Shop” at Shriners Hospital, where local hair stylists, nail techs and makeup artists from Roots and Boots Salon, Nails of Grace and the Spa & Salon at Margaritaville will volunteer their services.

Ashley Henning, an executive assistant at Margaritaville Resort and Casino and Shreveport-Bossier ambassador for the Tia’s Hope Foundation, is excited about the event. “I’m most looking forward to seeing the joy on the children’s faces. They have an incredible time every year,” Henning said. “I’ve had the honor of meeting some courageous children faced with crippling illnesses, and even though it was just for a few hours, I was able to help them forget about their challenges. These families have humbled me in ways I can never explain, and I am forever grateful.”

The dance will feature music, dancing, crafts, video games provided by Bayou Xtreme Gaming, face painting by Becky Meziere and more. The national award-winning NWLA UberGeeks Cosplay Team will be there to dance the night away in their best fairy tale, Disney and comic book character costumes.

The Tia’s Hope Foundation was founded in honor of Tia Palermo, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001 and bravely battled the disease for over a decade. “Tia always felt that there should be something special for children who had to spend a part of their youths in the hospital,” Henning said. “She took great joy in sharing special experiences, or, as she called them, ‘memory moments.’ ”

With that in mind, Tia’s Hope was established by Tia’s family to honor her wish. “Margaritaville is a proud sponsor of Tia’s Hope, contributing an annual donation of $75,000 for the foundation’s efforts in creating ‘memory moments,’” Henning said.

In 2016, El Karubah Shriners potentate Jerry DeFatta and Henning came together and created the “Memories in the Moonlight Dance.”

“For the children participating, it allows them to forget about the challenges of everyday life and live in a moment of joy,” Henning said.

“It also allows them to meet other children who may be facing the same issues and create a lasting friendship. It’s truly a magical event that they will remember forever.”

Parents must attend the dance with their child. There will be a designated drop-off location for the kids, where they will be picked up by a limo provided by Rose-Neath Funeral Home, and dropped off at the red-carpet entrance for a grand arrival. Volunteers with the El Karubah Shriners, Margaritaville Resort Casino, and the 307th Bomb of Barksdale Air Force Base will assist with this year’s event.

Tia’s Hope is always in need of new and gently used formal wear attire. Those interested in donating to the foundation can do so at https://tiashope.org/. People can also give to the cause by shopping on Amazon through the Amazon Smile program: Choose Tia’s Hope as a foundation of choice. Tickets are free. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/wedanceforhope/.


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