Jeans, flannel, and cowboy boots. While some don’t expect such a dress code to pair well with an evening event, the Valparaiso Family YMCA board members trusted their instincts and threw a country-themed celebration for their 13th Annual Y-Bash.
Rustic touches were sprinkled throughout the room: branches bedecked in twinkling lights and nooks furnished with cow-print armchairs and Navajo blankets. Being only the second year that the Y-Bash has chosen a theme, the number of guests who dressed accordingly speaks for itself.
Attendees were jovial and spirited in their cowboy finery, spurs decorating their ankles and kerchiefs knotted at their necks.
“It’s always great when you can wear jeans to an event,” laughed YMCA board member Julia Hess, to the agreement of her comrades.
The obvious enjoyment of the 400 or so attendees was just one positive aspect of the evening. The event itself serves as a kick-start to the Valparaiso YMCA’s fundraising season. Sponsors such as Family Express, First Merchants Bank, and many more organizations backed the silent auction, featuring over a hundred items to bid on. Other sponsors, such as presenting sponsor St. Mary Medical Center, ensured that the evening was filled with merriment.
“We’ve partnered [with Valparaiso YMCA] for a couple of years,” said Lisa Kiger, Director of Business Development for St. Mary. “It’s great because our mission and purpose is so similar to theirs. We’re all about mind, body, and spirit; giving back to the community and putting people first.”
Dimitri Olympidis, Chair of the Y-Bash Committee, expects records to be broken this year.
“Typically, the event brings in over $50,000,” Olympidis explained. “This year, as far as ticket sales are concerned, we’ve seen record purchases, so we’re expecting this event to break all the records of [the events] in the past years.”
Bob Wanek, CEO of Valparaiso Family YMCA, agreed.
“I think we’re going to break some records tonight!” Wanek concluded in his opening remarks, eliciting a round of applause from audience members.
Wanek explained the importance of the Y-Bash and how it benefits the community: “We meet a lot of people who don’t have financial means. We meet with them all, independently, to talk about what their needs are, and we provide reductions for them. The money we raise at events like this allows us to do that.”
Wanek indulged that one of his favorite parts of the evening was spending time with everyone. “I love people—and it’s the middle of winter! Let’s have some fun!”
Based on the number of smiles beneath cowboy hats, Wanek’s wish was granted.
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