Prime seating

Away Game Tailgate puts fans in skybox, raises funds for Hearing and Speech Foundation

The 2010 Away Game Tailgate raised $17,000 to help give “the gift of sound” to less fortunate people in East Tennessee.

The Oct. 2 event in the East Skybox at Neyland Stadium drew a crowd of folks enthusiastic about supporting the Hearing and Speech Foundation while also enjoying a good meal as they watched the University of Tennessee play Louisiana State University in a football game televised from LSU.

While UT lost the game, the guests still enjoyed the experience of watching the game from the exclusive accommodations of the skybox while they supported a good cause.

Amanda Womac, executive director of the Hearing and Speech Foundation, said the board was pleased with the turnout and amount raised. “We made $17,000-plus through ticket sales and our silent auction. We were able to cover all our expenses with sponsorships so every ticket sold, beer bought and silent auction item bid on was a donation to the foundation to support our hearing aid assistance program which provides hearing aids for folks in East Tennessee,” she said.

The executive director said the halftime show was enjoyable. “Beth Humpert talked about her experience with the foundation and how, through assistance from the Foundation, she was able to continue her documentary filmmaking. She is now working on a film that highlights the Foundation and will be premiered in an event in the spring,” Womac said.

Womac said Humpert is the producer of Feedbag Productions. “She was able to continue working because of hearing aids she obtained through the Foundation. She was at the tailgate to help us kick off our hearing aid recycling drive. She no longer needs hers because she had a auditory brain stem implant, so she donated her hearing aids to the Foundation to be refitted and reused,” Womac said.

Former University of Tennessee All-American Larry Seivers did well mingling with the guests as celebrity host. “Larry did great. He was real excited to be involved and looks forward to bringing his parents next year,” Womac said. “Folks enjoyed meeting Larry.”

Womac said that since this is the fourth year for the event, it flowed smoothly. “Registration went really, really well. We were hoping to get everyone in, fed and have a drink in their hand before the game started and that happened,” she said. Womac said everyone at the tailgate would’ve rather seen UT pull out a victory at the very end. “We could’ve played better of course, but those last 5 seconds of the game were rough for the fans, “she said.

The executive director said she hopes UT can score a big win over the University of Florida next year because that will be the game they hope to host the Away Game Tailgate in 2011. “UT and Florida is always a really good game so hopefully that will get folks excited,” she said. “We’d like to thank Downtown Grille and Brewery for providing the beer and to all the sponsors and ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped raise money thorough the silent auction.”

The Hearing and Speech Foundation’s next fundraiser is Wrapped in Style, a fashion show luncheon, set for Tuesady, Nov. 16, at the Barn Event Center in Townsend. Fashions are by Chico’s and the Bath Junkie. Lunch begins at 11:30, with the fashion show starting at noon. Tickets are $45. Call 865-977-0981 for tickets or sponsorship information.

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