Celebrating love

Slimfest will be an ‘anniversary’ for David Hall

It was love at first sight. David Hall of Hall’s Salvage fame, adds a “pretty much,” to that saying, but he will tell you in no uncertain terms that he knew something was going on when he first met Donyele Gibson.

David was headed for a cool drink of water and a big ole fan at Hall’s Salvage when he ran smack-into Donyele at last year’s Slimfest party. As a new corporate sponsor and a master of ceremonies for the event, David had been standing on stage under the lights, introducing bands, helping encourage folks at the fundraiser to donate to the Fraternal Order of Police’s Shop With a Cop and New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center.

He was tired, he said, and hot. “Gunner and I were the masters of ceremony for Slimfest last year,” says Hall. “I had been up on that stage under those hot lights. I was coming off the stage, headed for my store for a cold water and a little cooling off.”

Two women, however, met him on the steps. Melanie Stansberry and Donyele Gibson. Hall knew Melanie’s husband through a sponsorship of a young boy’s baseball team. Donyele’s son was also on the team, and the two women wanted to personally thank David Hall for his sponsorship.

“She walked up and stuck her hand out and said, ‘I would like to thank you for being a part of my son’s baseball team and all the help you have given them.’ Interest sparked immediately for me,” said Hall.

As the fates would have it, Hall was treating the baseball team of 11 year-olds to a Smokies game the next weekend. He asked Donyele if she was going to be there.

“Yes,” she said. And so was David.

It was kind-of crazy that next Friday night, Hall said, but he and Donyele finally got a chance to talk. The connection was strong, he said, and he even learned her father was a salesman for a company Hall had been doing business with for more than 15 years.

“It was pretty much love at first sight,” David said. That was August. They married in November.

“The day we got married, I thought I was really in love,” Hall said. “Today, I’m 1,000 times more in love with Donyele than I was then.”

Steve “Slim” Stilts, organizer of Slimfest, says he can’t promise this kind of “love connection” at every Slimfest, but it’s a great story to go along with the mission of Slimfest of helping folks.

Hall agrees. “Not only did Slimfest make some changes in a lot kid’s lives with the money they raised last year, but it also changed my life forever.”

Slimfest 2008 will be 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Aug. 2, at New Midland Plaza Amphitheater, in front of Hall’s Salvage in Alcoa. Entertainment is free, with Smooth Grove as the headliner band, preceded Avenue C and the Blues Brothers from Memories Theater in Pigeon Forge. Food and beverage vendors are Texas Roadhouse, Hooters, Eagle Distributing and Wine & Spirits Cellar.

The “perks” of Slimfest are the give-aways. In previous years, a reverse raffle, with $100 raffle tickets, meant the lucky winner walked away with a car. This year, Slim is giving a nod to high gas prices by skipping the car and having a reverse raffle for $10,000 cash -- tax free. In addition, registration at the event makes folks eligible for 103.5 gallons of gas or 1 ct. diamond necklace. Buy a beverage to register for the necklace and no purchase is necessary for the gas giveaway.

Slimfest is a community party dedicated to raising funds for the Fraternal Order of Police Shop With a Cop program and New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center. “For the Kids and the Ones That Protect Them” is the theme for Slimfest. Money raised through the reverse raffle, sponsors, food and beverage sales and donations benefit Shop With a Cop and New Hope.

The event began in 2006 when Steve “Slim” Stilts turned his 50th birthday party into a free concert to help Fraternal Order of Police Shop With a Cop program.

Schedule of events for Saturday are:

• Avenue C -- 7 - 8 p.m.

• Blues Brothers -- 8 - 8:45 p.m.

• Smooth Groove -- 9 p.m. to midnight

• Reverse Raffle: Drawing starts at 7:30; Last ticket drawn on stage at 8:45.

• 1 ct. diamond necklace: Drawing at 10 p.m. Must be present to win.

• 103.5 Gallons of Gas: Drawing at 10 p.m. Must be present to win.

For more information: 865-984-KIDS (5437)

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