Party benefits obesity programs
HUNTINGTON -- It was like something out of Hollywood.
Couple by couple, dressed to the nines, posed for pictures on the red carpet before being welcomed into the home of Dr. Hossein Sakhai for St. Mary's Medical Center's 90th Anniversary Black Tie Gala.
Nearly 600 guests attended the old Hollywood style party at Sakhai's 1920s-era riverfront estate. While a red carpet and paparazzi welcomed guests in the front of the house, Hollywood's most famous theme songs played in the backyard where several white tents surrounded the glistening pool and a living Oscar statue posed for pictures with guests.
"We're just trying to create a magical night," said David Sheils, president of the St. Mary's Medical Center Foundation. "We want to give our guests an old Hollywood experience, like they're one of the stars."
The event, which is in its 11th year, was expected to raise $100,000 this year for local childhood obesity programs.
Michael Sellards, president and CEO of St. Mary's Medical Center, said the event has become popular over the years for its elaborate themes.
"The very first one we had about 250 guests and this year it should run almost 600," he said. "That's part of the beauty of the gala. It's not the same venue or the same theme, and that makes it interesting for people to come out every year."
It was the second time the gala has been hosted at Sakhai's Staunton Street estate. Ten years ago, the foundation celebrated St. Mary's 80th birthday there with a garden party, and organizers decided it would be the perfect spot to celebrate St. Mary's 90th birthday as well. Catering was done by Chef Jamison Ugland and music was provided by RadioActive Band of Cleveland.
Proceeds from ticket sales for the event support Kids In Motion, an innovative exercise and nutrition program for Tri-State area children. A one-of-a-kind program in West Virginia, it's a joint initiative of the Huntington YMCA, Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary's, the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Cabell County Schools.
"We're excited about this year's gala because we will not only be enjoying an evening of fellowship, but we will also be honoring those who have supported St. Mary's mission over the last 90 years," Sheils said before the event. "Plus, we will be supporting two programs that have the potential to change the health of generations to come. Childhood obesity is such a critical issue in our region. Physical activity and proper nutrition are essential to the health and self-esteem of children in their formative years.
"We are excited about the early success of Kids In Motion and we need the continued support of the community to further develop the model program. We also want to continue the great work of the Mileage Club in order to keep encouraging elementary school students to be physically active."
At the heart of the Kids in Motion program is Kid Fit, a 10-week program to get kids ages 5 to 14 moving and having fun, while also learning about fitness and nutrition. Weight, body mass index, body fat percentage and blood pressure are tracked throughout the program to measure progress and customize the program to fit each child.
During Kid Fit, children utilize exergaming equipment, which combines video games and exercise. Kids In Motion has had so much success with Kid Fit, that it has now added Family Fit, a program that allows parents to participate in the same activities with their children during the same 10 weeks.
Anyone wanting to become a part of Kids In Motion can contact program director Jamie Berry, at 304-697-7113 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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