Casa celeb roast

By Shelby R. Farrell


BELVIDERE – In the heat of summer, one Boone County celebrity and philanthropist got roasted at the Boone County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, celebrity roast fundraiser.

Sheri Casey is been a part of 17 local boards and committees over the past 30 years, including the Belvidere Salvation Army Advisory Board and Belvidere’s Harvest Meal Committee.

She was awarded the “Service above Self” award from the Downtown Rockford Rotary Club in 2009, the “Doctor of Civic Betterment” award from the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce in 2012, and this year she was awarded the chance to be the butt of her family and friends’ jokes at the 7th annual CASA celebrity roast on Thursday, Aug. 20.

“I agreed to do it because CASA’s a good organization,” Casey said. “I thought I have a lot of friends in the community, and I think a lot of them will support what we’re doing here for CASA. That’s the bottom line, and I don’t care that people are gonna make fun of me.”

Four people told stories and made jokes at Casey’s expense – her daughter, Erin Smolinski, her brother, Tony Dal Pra, and friends Tom Lassandro and Paul Ollmann, and Casey said she knew about 85 percent of the people in the audience.

Boone County CASA Executive Director, Charlotte Meier, said a little more than 150 people attended the fundraiser.

The amount raised by these 150 individuals is still unclear due to the fact that costs are still being taken into consideration and donations are still being made to the CASA organization.

The money raised will go toward operational costs, such as rent, and training for new advocates.

“This is our biggest fundraiser throughout the year,” Meier said. “We usually raise in the $9,000 to $10,000 range, so it’s a good fundraiser for us, and we’re so grateful that the community shows up and laughs with us.”

Meier said the organization receives money from the Boone County government and United Way, but otherwise, all money needed for operation comes from donations.

“It’s very important for us to stay up and being able to serve the vulnerable kids in our community,” she said.

“CASA is very important. It’s shown that children who have a CASA advocate assigned to them spend less time in foster care. They are less likely to move from foster home to foster home. They do better in school. They have less behavioral issues. All because they have that steady CASA advocate with them throughout the length of a case.”

The Boone County CASA serves all of Boone County, and has 62 children with 22 advocates. Meier said training for advocates is available every couple months, and two or three new advocates will complete their training in the fall.

The Boone County CASA has received nine new cases so far this year, which Meier said is lower than usual, but more cases tend to flow in with the beginning of the new school year. She said they are always looking for more advocates.

While Casey has only been involved with the non-profit organization through fundraisers, she said she hopes the celebrity roast brought more attention to the Boone County CASA.

“I just think it’s important that kids that don’t have anybody to speak for them have somebody appointed that can say what needs to be said in the court systems for them,” Casey said.

“Everybody needs to have a mouthpiece, and some of the children aren’t capable of having that.”

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