By Marianne Mueller


ROCKTON – Guests at the 2015 Hope Foundation were treated to a “Touch of Vegas.” A sold out crowd visited sites someone would say while visiting Las Vegas. A cardboard cutout of Elvis and a table named after him only tapped the surface of familiar scenes.
Tables were adorned with card decks, paper dice, and fun, colorful accents. Attendees were directed to tables highlighting hot spots including the Freemont Street Experience, Plaza, Sahara, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Sands and Treasure Island.
Master of Ceremonies, Andy Gannon was also named the “Pit Boss.” He kept action moving all evening.
“This is our 15th annual ‘Touch of Spring’ event, but because of the weather not being very spring like the last couple of years we decided to bring you a Touch of Vegas, said Ladel Cass, Hope Foundation President.
Cass opened his comments by expressing gratitude. “Whether your support goes to support a child, the school, thank you for your continued support,” he said.
President Cass outlined three main areas that the Hope Foundation has been able to give back.
“At our meetings we often talk about what it takes to make a school strong,” Cass stated. These things are what make Hononegah not just a good school, but a great school.”
Over the years the Hope Foundation has given back an estimated $80,000 to date. This money has been used to buy iPads, books, music, and software, in addition to many other areas.”
“Secondly, we have built an endowment fund, which has allowed us to collaborate with the school board.
Thirdly, our partnership with the Gem Shop benefits with three $500 scholarships being awarded yearly through the sale of the Jan Modersohn Memorial ring tickets. Every year Kevin Mueller designs and donates a ring to the Hope Foundation, and this year’s winner was Ruth Meiborg.
President Cass credited Brad Bond and his students for doing a professional job on the evening’s programs. He followed by thanking all event sponsors.
“I would also like to thank the American Legion for once again donating the hall, “Cass said. ABC Catering received a round of applause for a lovely buffet. Cathy Bellich of State Farm Insurance sponsored the band. Ticomix sponsored a travel voucher.
Cass lauded the efforts of the Hope Foundation board.
“I can never say enough great things about the board,” he said. “If you have to run with a group of people who have enormous amounts of talent and energy, these are the people I am honored to work with. I appreciate all of you,” Cass said.
Board members who serve on the Hope Foundation stood to be recognized. Ladel Cass serves as President. Tom Polaski is Vice President. Mark Payne holds the position of Treasurer and Christine Lawver, as Secretary.
Trustees are: Ray Ferguson, Kelley Beard, Jim Griffin, Fay Meiborg, Kendra Green, Cathy Bellich, Shelly Curtis, Chuck Gilbert, and Millicent Vick.
Special notes of gratitude were given to Superintendent Lynn Gibson, and Principal Eric Flohr. Kudos was also given to school staff, Chad Daugherty, Associate Principal, Kathy Eckmann, Billy Lewis, Steve Cofoid, and School Board President Dave Kurlinkis.
Great applause arose when President Cass recognized Touch of Vegas event organizers, Kelly Rosik and Diane Eymann.
Committee members Angela Henbest, Jennifer Osorio, Rebecia Nevers and Erica Rabrich doled out raffle ticket sales and helped in various capacities.
“This is the first time we have ever had a live band. We welcome Pablo and the Rythmix.” Cass said. Pablo and the Ryhtmix rocked the house with numbers dating back to several genres.
One of the most outstanding numbers performed was Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Band members performed moving amidst the crowd a few times, even prompting a conga line.
Throughout the evening cash drawings in amounts of $50, or $100 were drawn, as well as an early bird drawing.
A silent auction with highly useable items donated by numerous sponsors, a fifty-fifty raffle, special card and dice games plus a chance to win a travel voucher worth $1,000 added to a complete night of fun! The vouchers were won per bidding in an environment of friendly competition.
At the end of the event, four $500 winners were announced and one grand prize winner of $2,000. Tom and Peggy Jencius emerged the Grand Prize winners. In a classy move they donated half of their winnings back to the Hope Foundation.
The Hope Foundation first came into being in 1997 under the direction of then Superintendent, Ralph Marshal. A Heritage mural, tutorial programs, teacher grants, scholarships, a purchase of two AED’s for the athletic department, retractable batting cages, a 2014 renovation feasibility study, and the purchase of a 40-acre track of land for future use are some of the way’s the Hope Foundation has  supported community and educational needs.
Ladel Cass reminded the crowd, “Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it hits the internet.”

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