When it’s rainy and chilly, most people want to cuddle by the fire in a sweatshirt and sweatpants with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. That may have been the sentiment for some during the torrential downpours that pummeled thearea the evening of May 6. Still, that didn’t stop 650 guests from enjoying a night of dinner and dancing, all for a good cause.
St. Luke’s 108th Charity Ball benefited St. Luke’s University Health Network Palliative Care and Hospice. Guests enjoyed cocktails and dinner while dressed in black tie attire. They danced and enjoyed tunes by the band Philadelphia Funk Authority. The ball was held at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem.
This year’s event raised $500,000. “Despite the weather, everyone was in a good mood. Everyone was excited to be back together in person,” said Lori M. Coursen, CFRE, network director of Special Events for the Development Office at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “It was as the first big event we’ve had.” The event was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID.
The palliative care and hospice teams improve quality of life by helping patient and family members focus on what is most important to them. Physical, social, emotional and spiritual support services are provided to patients with a life-limiting illness as well as their loved ones. The work done by these teams touches lives across the region, bringing hope and peace to families during difficult times.
Shirlee Neumeyer, Ball chair, was unfamiliar with the mission and workings of hospice until her husband, Al, was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospice in 2018. “Prior to July 28, 2018, I was personally unfamiliar with the mission and workings of hospice. It was on that date that my dear husband, Al, was admitted to Hospice House for his final earthly journey,” she said. “Not having traveled this road previously I was introduced to a division of care that enlightened my world. I was surrounded by support and compassion, expertise and education. The marvelous staff walked beside me on one of the most difficult journeys of my life and aided me in the process of saying goodbye to the love of my life — that being the significant reason I chose Hospice and Palliative Care as the beneficiary for 108th Charity Ball.
Beneficiaries are decided after speaking with hospital administrators to see their greatest needs as well as choosing a cause that is close to the chair and honorary chair’s hearts. Past beneficiaries of fundraising funds have included Women & Babies Pavilion at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, trauma services, women’s imaging and behavioral health.
An auxiliary ball committee of volunteers work together to create the event. A chair has already been chosen for next year’s event. Typically, they start meeting in September to organize the event the following year. This year’s committee worked with Shellie Reid Warner of rel(Event) Planning to bring the committee and chair’s vision for the event to reality.
This year marked the 108th charity ball. Coursen has been running this event for 25 years. It has been held annually, only being postponed due to COVID or war. The ball marks the hospital’s largest fundraising event. It is always held at Saucon Valley Country Club on the first Friday in May. The event held special meaning this year since it is also the 150th anniversary of the hospital. “The ball has gotten bigger, and our network has really grown over the past few decades,” she said. “The amount of sponsors has increased.” She added that sponsors are some of the biggest companies in the Lehigh Valley. The event is open to anyone and has sold out for the past few years. This year was no exception. Tickets started at $300 a person to $2,500.
The theme of the evening was Wanderlove, which is defined as finding the place that touches your heart and creating your own magic. “It’s the moment you arrive at your destination and your heart skips a beat, and you fall in love with travel,” Coursen said. Each room of the country club (the event was the only one taking place at the time and took up the whole venue) was decorated with a destination such as the tropics, the Orient and the Mediterranean.
For more information on the charity ball and other ways to donate to St. Luke’s University Health Network, visit www.slhn.org/development.