, Muskogee, OK


June 20, 2013

A Caribbean beach party, with treasure for Todd center

— When you hear the sounds of steel drums, see banana trees swaying in the wind and smell the aroma of a whole roasted pig and jerk chicken, you must be vacationing on a Caribbean island.

Skip the airfare and travel time and head over to Three Forks Harbor at 6:30 p.m. Saturday for “A Night in the Tropics.” For $50, you’ll hear Tommy-O and The Bamboo Boat Band of Dallas/Fort Worth, have an island-flavored dinner with tropical drinks and wine, and dance the night away. There also will be a silent and live auction.

Marilyn Randall Stout is the chairwoman for the fundraiser for the Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuromuscular Center, 1111 N. 36th St. The KBT board and Christmas Home Tour Committee are the hosts.

Stout came up with the idea about a year ago as an additional way to raise funds for the center.

“I’ve been on the board a long time and saw the need,” she said. “Funding is down. We used to get $40,000 from an agency; now we get $23,000.”

Committee member Karen Greer said she got involved after taking a tour of the center and seeing the children who are helped by director Pat Pack, physical therapist.

“It pulls on your heartstrings,” Greer said. “If you visit or see the video, you can’t help but be passionate about it.”

Glenda Broome, another committee member, said the goal is for every child to have the opportunity for care. The center has been offering physical therapy to children with special needs regardless of the family’s financial means for 37 years.

For Pack, it’s hard to have a waiting list of 13 children who aren’t getting services because the center is short on staff.

“It takes more of my time to get any kind of reimbursement from insurance,” she said. “I’m a full time PT and administrator. It’s hard to get it all done.”

Pack said she was looking forward to a “festive and fun evening.” She noted that Sue Vanderford of Cowboy’s is roasting a 300-pound donated pig in a pit.

“Now, that’s a lot of pig,” she said. “Folks are pretty excited to find another way to help.”

Tropical drinks will be available at a cash bar while dancing continues after dinner. The Bamboo Boat Band features steel drums, percussion, guitar, horns and vocals. The music includes rhythms from Jamaica, Latin salsa and Key West.

Tom Ovington, billed as Tommy-O, said his band records on the island of Trinidad, the “Calypso capital of the world and birthplace of the steel drum.” He has recorded with some of the big names in Caribbean music, he said.

Marjorie Szabo, a committee member, said “it’s the most fun thing you’ll do this year.” She listened to the band’s music on its website and can’t wait to hear it in person.

Charlene Schoeppel and Donna Taylor, committee members in charge of auction items, said some smaller items are combined in baskets with artwork while others will generate a lot of competition for the highest bid. Great deals include a quail hunt at a Missouri hunting lodge, a Drillers game party with food and drink for 18, and three days’ lodging in Snowmass/Aspen, Colo., for eight people.

“There will be an opportunity to enter and win in the drawdown event,” Stout said. “A drawdown is a donation drawing in which the last name drawn wins. In this case, half of the cash pot will be the prize while the other half benefits the center. Drawdown tickets will be available at the event or can be purchased in advance with reserved tickets.”

The committee has purchased tea lights for mirrors, Jamaican decorations and flowers for the tables. Bottles of white and red wine will be ready for pouring when guests arrive. Stout, who has worked tirelessly on the event, hopes people will come out and support the center and the children it helps while being able to “escape to the islands.”

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