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St. Mary's hosts 10th annual gala at Heritage Farm

May. 18, 2013 @ 11:21 PM

HUNTINGTON -- More than 600 people came dressed in their "country best" to attend the 10th annual black-tie gala hosted by the St. Mary's Medical Center Foundation on Saturday night at Heritage Farm Museum and Village.

The theme for this year's gala was "A Shindig at the Farm," during which guests' cowboy hats and boots dominated the red carpet the foundation rolls out for the event each year.

The event was expected to raise about $100,000 for the foundation, which benefits the St. Mary's Center for Education, the Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety Program and the Pink Ribbon Fund, among many others, said David Sheils, president of the foundation.

"It's more about the people than the profit," said Sheils. "We really try to keep it fresh each year because we want to give people a quality experience, and we want them to know how much they are appreciated."

More than $800,000 has been raised for the foundation since the galas began in 2003, and annually the gala serves as a way to highlight notable areas in Huntington, said Sheils.

Last year, the event had a luau theme at the Guyan Country Club, and the 2011 event at Charlie's Harley-Davidson had a "Black and Blue" theme. The event also has taken place at Camden Park and the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

"It's great to be a part of it," said Sheils. "The quality of places and people we are able to work with, from the property managers to our chef, they're all first class -- absolutely second to none."

Guests' enthusiasm for the gala's ever-changing themes could be evidenced in the fashion choices of Bob Welty, the foundation's president, who sported his very own bolo tie for the occasion.

He said the gala is a time in which the foundation has the opportunity to thank everyone, from volunteers to corporate sponsors, for their continued support.

"This is something for the community," said Welty. "It's a little bit of a different gala. There are no silent auctions or anything like that. It's just a time for people to get together to say, 'Thank you,' and let them know we care about them and their support.

"I think not everyone is aware of the broad range of support St. Mary's has for the community in the form of programs for childhood obesity, heart awareness and cancer screenings to name a few, but we want the people who make those things happen to know we are celebrating them tonight."

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