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Hundreds attend Rotary fundraiser
LH Photo 1
The Swingin Medallions play and dance to the beat Saturday during the Rotary Club of Richmond Hills annual fundraiser at the City Center. - photo by Photo by Tiffany Stroud

The Rotary Club of Richmond Hill hosted a beach-themed fundraiser Saturday, complete with beach towels, beach balls and vases filled with sand as decorations. Guests enjoyed dancing, drinks with little umbrella garnishes, food and classic music.
Inside the Richmond Hill City Center, guests arrived to an array of heavy hors d’oeuvres, including a fruit spread, shrimp and grits, a mashed potato bar and a variety of ice cream flavors. Cash bars were also available, as well as desserts by Coastal Confections.
“We’re glad to be here,” Janet Roberts, who was attending the event with her husband, Jimmy, said. “The food is excellent. It couldn’t be any better.”
The event included a performance by The Swingin’ Medallions, who hail from the Greenwood, S.C., area and have had big hits such as “She Drives Me Out of My Mind” and “Hey, Hey, Baby” — both top-40 hits from the ‘60s. Guests danced to several classic songs, such as “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Under the Boardwalk.”
“I’m very excited about the band,” guest Mary Kay Harkleroad said. “I’ve seen them before and they’re great. Beach music is my favorite, so I love the theme.”
Harkleroad not only enjoyed the band, she walked away with $850 after winning the 50/50 drawing.
“I just bought a couple tickets thinking of it as a donation,” she said.
Harkleroad is planning a trip to Italy for her first time in Europe and plans to use the money toward her trip — perhaps she and her husband will eat a little more spaghetti and gelato.
The 50/50 drawing wasn’t the only way to make a donation to the Rotary Club and leave with winnings. The fundraiser also included a silent auction with items such as a Civil War shadow box, paintings, a truck bed tool box, a massage and facial and dozens of other items and services from local businesses.
At the end of the night, the Rotary Club had a live auction for a deer hunting trip for two, a week-long getaway to a cabin in North Carolina, a cocktail and dinner cruise for eight and more.
All of the profits from the event will go toward local and international initiatives.
“Everything we do is for benefit — we do not keep the money,” Rotary President Larry Barker said. “We use the profits to support Rotary International, where we have dug wells for people who need water in third-world countries. We’ve dug wells in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and in Central America.”
He said the profits will also go toward the local community, such as the senior citizen projects, The Matthew Freeman Foundation and the Presidents Fund, among others.
Rotary Club is also trying to eradicate polio throughout the world. Barker said this cause is important because of how devastating polio can be.
“Back in the ‘50s, probably one in every 100 children had polio,” Barker said. “It had pretty much disappeared, but now it’s making a comeback throughout the world. The problem with eradicating diseases is the cells diversify, replicate themselves and come back in another form. Most people don’t know that, but it’s like the common cold.
When you have a cold, you take medication that kills the cold,” he continued. “But the next time you get a cold, it has mutated and comes back in a different form. A lot of people don’t realize that but just because you got rid of one cold, the next cold you get is totally different than the one you just had. That’s why your body wasn’t immune to it.”
This was the fourth year the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill had a themed fundraiser with big entertainment.  Rotary Club member Gene Durant said he liked the improvements that were made since last year’s event.
“I like the new format of having hors d’oeuvres — it decreases the lines,” Durant said. “I like how the bars are sporadically throughout the building, too.”
Each year, the Rotary Club plans to keep improving and growing so it can raise money for good causes and, as Barker says, “make a little magic.”
“For one night out of the year, we create a magical event where couples can go to a nice place to have a nice evening with first-class entertainment and first-class food — all for a good cause,” Barker said. “We’re there to make the magic. That’s what I try to do.”
Next year’s fundraiser is already in the works with a black tie event that will include a mini version of Mama Mia.
Barker noted that this year’s fundraiser couldn’t have taken place without the hard work of Rotary Club members and the event’s sponsors, including Georgia Living at Home, The Suites At Station Exchange, Howard Rush, First Command Financial Services, Eric Hartley and Gene and Carol Brogdon, among others.

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