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July 28 Festive Evening to fund River Hospital enhancements

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — The success of River Hospital Foundation’s 11th annual Festive Evening will determine how the hospital here can upgrade its physical therapy and emergency department spaces.

Guests at the event, which will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. July 28 at the Thousand Islands Club Restaurant, Wellesley Island, will help raise funds for the enhancement of both departments, according to hospital Chief Executive Officer Ben Moore III.

“We’re space-constrained,” he said. “The conditions for both are very similar. We could do more for patients by doing physical (improvements). For physical therapy, we’d like to have more room for treatment areas. In the emergency department, we have five patient bays, and especially in the summer, it gets things backed up.”

Net proceeds would fund equipment modernization, Mr. Moore said, but specifics have yet to be identified. That all depends on how much the event raises. Jodi M. Kemple, director of programs and events for the foundation, said Festive Evening raised $52,000 in 2012.

“Festive Evening is our biggest fundraiser for the hospital,” she said. “Proceeds are normally nonrestricted, and those are critical to help the hospital as needs arrive.”

Attendees will be encouraged to wear river casual attire to the event, which will feature live entertainment, gourmet food and dessert stations, an open bar, and both live and silent auctions. Mrs. Kemple said some of the more exciting items to be auctioned off in the live auction include two boats, dinner cruise packages and artwork.

She said the event averages 320 people each year. While a core group of people tends to contribute to it each year, Mrs. Kemple said, the event is open to the public. Responses are requested by July 15 by calling the foundation at 482-4976. Tickets and sponsorship start at $95 per person and go upwards of $500 per person. People who cannot attend may also make a financial contribution by calling Mrs. Kemple for more information.

She said one of the most difficult components of the fundraiser is to keep people interested and excited in supporting it annually. One change this year is the addition of Blanchard’s Auction Services, Potsdam, which will be the event’s auctioneer.

“If you lose excitement, it’s the hardest part to get back,” she said. “When you’re standing there in the moment, we have characters there and the auctioneer is key to get the crowd involved. It’s like a competition sometimes with people bidding. It’s a very fun night.”

Although many items have been donated for the live and silent auctions, Mrs. Kemple said, she would love to have a person or a business donate that one unique item that would prompt a bidding war and put the event “over the top.”

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