The Kids Food Basket (KFB) attacks childhood hunger in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area one sack supper at a time, packing and delivering over 4,800 meals every weekday. A big part of that ambitious program, and the single most expensive component, includes the 80,000 boxes of juice they go through every month. The annual Juice Ball, now three years old, is a mega-fundraising event sponsored by Grand Rapids chef/restaurateur Tommy Fitzgerald to help raise money to purchase juice boxes for the kids. Last year’s event raised enough money to purchase 225,000 juice boxes which filled two semi-trucks. The goal this year was three.
Members of Ring 211 have participated in the Juice Ball for the last two years, including the latest incarnation held Saturday, January 7, at the J. W. Marriott Hotel (J. W. Marriott being the top luxury line of the Marriott hotel family) in downtown Grand Rapids. Ring Members told fortunes, created balloon animals, and (of course) performed walk-around magic for the anticipated 3,000 guests. It was fun, exhausting, and when you see notes like the one below, it’s ultimately and eminently very rewarding.
“Dear KFB: Thank you for the yummy sack suppers. I love the sweet juicy red apples. I also like the healthful granola bars and the cold delicious juice. I will remember when I was in 2 grade and had sack suppers. Love Cindy.” This note dated November 5, 2010.
The theme this year was that of a renaissance fair and appropriately named, “Ye Olde Juice Ball.” So guests were encourage to arrive in some sort of medieval costume to enjoy a King’s Feast which included a pig roast, turkey legs, and more. The rest of the ball included many cash bars, an ice sculpture display, dancing, auctions, bands, and DJ’s. Ric Carver from the Detroit area was stilt walking and juggling. A group of nuns were invited to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tommy. (He started this ball on his 40th birthday and wants to raise a little more each year). Also, people could bid money to rescue a local celebrity from a “castle’s” high tower. Prizes were also drawn as giveaways. Information tables provided material for volunteer involvement. A gift store was also set up for memorabilia. While all of this was going on Ring 211 members were doing fortune telling, balloons, and magic. Fee to get into the ball was $20.00, the King’s Feast was additional, and guests who wanted to stay the night could obtain an unbelievable hotel rate of $99.00.
Thanks go out to all the Ring Members who donated their time and skills to this year’s event. The following members did fortune telling: Dave Bogdan, Krag Ryal, and his wife, Carole Ryal. The next bunch strolled and a few took “stationed social” tables and performed magic: Kellen Bogdan (junior member), Jesse Shira (junior member), Mike McNee, Vincent Rosso, Dr. Jack Vander Wal, Randy Vander Wal, Jim Parkes, Glenn Eberhardt, Charles Bennett, and Wayne Ramsdell. Jerry Herdegen, assisted by his wife, Kathy, formed many balloon creations, of which medieval type hats and swords were popular. Cassandra Heimbeck also made many balloon delights. Many photos were taken by Michele Parkes, our Ring president who also was a “go to” person. Kathy Herdegen and Dr. Jack Vander Wal also took photos. [Note: While having breakfast in the six.one.six lounge area the next morning, chairman Dave Bogdan was quite impressed to see so many people leaving the elevators to the hotel check out still wearing the many balloon creations — and these were all adults.]
Ring 211 received money for participating in this event and has voted to present Tommy Fitzgerald and Mary K. Hoodhood of the Kids Food Basket with a $1000.00 check. Tommy has been a longtime volunteer of KFB and Mary is the founder. They were very thankful for our participation and donation.