Luau for Life brings community out for fun, food and fundraising

There was swimming, games and plenty of fun Aug. 9 during the third annual Luau for Life fundraiser for Secret Safe Place for Newborns at the beach at Court South on Alcoa Highway.

The community was still very enthusiastic in supporting the cause as youngsters played with parents and a crowd gathered around a karaoke machine to sing songs and entertain those attending the festivities. Everyone enjoyed games and food. Russell Biven and Beth Haynes of WBIR-TV’s Live at Five were masters of ceremony for the event.

“It’s great to have the community support and have the community behind us in trying to protect babies,” McCloud said.

Co-founder Shawna McCord said the night of the event more than 400 tickets had been sold to the fundraiser.

“I think it’s getting bigger every year, and people are hearing it’s a fun family event,” she said.

Co-founder Lisa Yount said she had heard many people say they enjoy coming to the event with their families. “They love the event and their children love it, so they bring them,” she said

Nichole McCord helped organize the silent auction, and she said the event went well. “I think it’s been great. I was so pleased everything went,” she said of the silent auction.

Executive director Shannon McCloud said the event has grown each of the last three years. “The first year we had about 100 people and raised $3,500. Last year we had 320 people, and we raised over $14,000,” she said. McCloud said that it appeared more than $10,000 was raised at this year’s event.

McCloud said when they first started thinking about a fund raiser, they knew it had to be something fun that people would want to attend. “We wanted something where people were asking about it each year,” she said.

McCloud said they’ve accomplished that goal. “We typically start planning in January and in June or July, people start asking for luau tickets,” she said.

A Secret Safe Place for Newborns was founded by McConnell, Yount and then State Rep. Doug Overbey in 2001 with the passage of the Safe Haven Law. The idea for the law came about after an abandoned newborn died of severe dehydration in a shed in Townsend. The law protects mothers who are unwilling or unable to care for their newborns by allowing them to surrender their babies to any hospital, community health clinic, birthing center or walk-in clinic within 72 hours of the newborn’s birth. The baby is examined, admitted to a hospital and later placed with an adoptive family by the Department of Children’s Services. At least 21 newborns have been surrendered in Tennessee since 2004.

Sponsors for the event include Court South, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, B97.5, Burger King, Cherokee Athletic Facility, Print Edge, Knoxville News Sentinel, Campbell Tent & Party Rentals, Blount Today, WBIR-TV and Designsensory.

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