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The Blount Memorial Foundation is going ‘Vegas’

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The invitations say it all: What Happens in Maryville, Stays in Maryville.

The Blount Memorial Foundation is bringing Vegas to Blount County with Casino Royale, a Las Vegas-themed fund-raiser on Saturday, April 26, at Royal Oaks Event Facility. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Billed as The Event, Casino Royale steps in as a way for the foundation to raise funds for the Good Samaritan Clinic. In previous years, the foundation has held a February dinner and party. They will continue with the popular golf tournament in the fall on Sept. 22 at Egwani Farms.

Foundation executive director Jane Andrews said that a committee of individuals who had participated in the February galas throughout the years chose to revamp them into The Event. “For nine years, we had organized our gala around Valentines Day and, after nine years, it needed refreshing,” said Andrews. “So, we came up with the idea of doing a casino party.”

By branding it as The Event, the committee leaves the door open to change the theme and venue again next year, or to keep things the same. Even with a “gambling” theme, no state laws will be broken as part of the fund-raiser. “We’re doing casino games, but we’ll be using play money. Nobody is gambling,” Andrews said. “It’s all legal.”

Andrews said a company called Fantasy Casino is running the game. They have dealers who know what they’re doing, she said, and will keep the evening fun.

“When you come into the event, you get $25,000 in play money. The money can be used to purchase auction items at the end of the evening,” Andrews said.

Items up for auction so far include autographed University of Tennessee basketballs, Las Vegas-related items such as a trip to Las Vegas, gift certificates to area restaurants in Knoxville and Maryville and other merchandise and prizes.

“It’s just really a fun evening. We’ll have a DJ, so there will be plenty of dancing, a wonderful, wonderful buffet with oysters, beef, chicken, shrimp and crab claws.”

Andrews said the committee members organizing the event were excited about working with Steve and Joyce Greene, owners of the Royal Oaks Event Facility.

“They’ve really committed to this property,” said Andrews. “Steve is on our foundation board so it’s important to support them. It gave us an opportunity to not only change up the event but to use their facility,” she said.

The tag line -- while intended on one level to invoke the teasing commercials about Las Vegas -- has a double meaning for the foundation.

“Our tag line is ‘What happens in Maryville stays in Maryville.’ The money stays here for Good Samaritan Clinic. It’s important that the fund-raising we do here keeps all the money here to support people in Blount County who don’t have access to a medical home. They can come to the Good Samaritan clinic regardless of their ability to pay or lack of insurance and get excellent medical care from our physicians and staff,” said Andrews. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The Blount Memorial Good Samaritan Clinic was established on August 1, 1997, to serve the uninsured and underserved Blount County community members. The clinic has served the community’s “have nots” by providing a primary care medical home. The clinic staff has had more than 120,000 office encounters since its inception. Last year, there were 15,025 patient visits. More than 6,000 patients are on a sliding fee discount program.

Andrews said the event is open to the public. Tickets are $125 a person and $75 of that is tax deductible as allowed by law for individuals who itemize.

The fun surrounding the theme has already started, Andrews said. Many who have asked about tickets have said they plan to dress as Mafia gangsters.

“We’ll have everything from Black Jack, to Bingo, roulette and possibly poker,” she said. “The whole idea is to get people to move around from game to game to enjoy time with friends and raise money for a worthy cause.”

Tickets may be purchased online and paid for by credit card at www.blountmemorial.org and clicking on charitable giving.

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