Celebration, awareness focus of therapy center event
HUNTINGTON -- The invitation called for semi-formal, but the evening called for a completely good time Saturday night during the Developmental Therapy Center's 12th annual Valentine Celebration at the Ramada Limited Hotel in Huntington.
The event is the most notable on the social and fundraising calendars for the center, which provides physical, speech and occupational therapy to Tri-State residents.
Since its inception, the event has been known as a great night out for couples who also want to support a good cause, said Leslie Comer-Porter, executive director of the center.
"It started with an idea to provide a fundraiser that allowed the community to be more involved with the center while highlighting the services the center has to provide," Comer-Porter said.
"We always aim to have a good time, and we want the community to have a night to come out and enjoy themselves."
In addition to dinner and drinks, the event features a headlining comedian, and this year's comedian, Mack Dryden, who has appeared on "The Tonight Show," took to the stage for the nearly 200 guests at the event.
This year, the Celebrity Joke-A-Thon made its debut at the event, during which four local celebrities each gave it their best shot for three minutes each on stage. The crowd selected the winner by a round of applause.
This year's celebrity comedians were Chuck Black, host of the K-9 Crew Morning show on 93.7 the Dawg; Tim Irr, anchorman for WSAZ-TV; Clint McElroy, of the "Cledus T. Party with Clint, Judy and Cledus" on 103.3 TCR Country; and Chris Miller, owner and president of Dutch Miller Kia in Barboursville and owner of Dutch-Miller Chevrolet-Hyundai in Huntington.
Those local celebrities contributed their jokes to benefit the center, which provides therapeutic speech, language, occupation and physical therapy to infants, children and adults.
There are no income, age or geographic restrictions for those needing help, and the center offers sliding fees to its clients thanks to support from the United Way of the River Cities.
For all of the fun that happens during the Valentine Celebration, there is so much more good work that goes into helping so many people function in their daily lives, said Barry Burgess, president of the center's board of directors.
"Often, it really is tear-jerking to see the treatment and effort these kids go through in order to complete their therapy in working to be on the same level as kids who don't have the same struggles," Burgess said. "People who don't have that reality often don't know about the center or the kinds of things that can be done to help kids with disabilities, and we want to raise awareness of those things and how the center can help those kids and their community."