Charity Ball closes 100-year history of raising funds for Middletown hospitals

Four former Middletown Area Federation of Women’s Club presidents were introduced Dec. 5 as Honorary Chairs of the 100th Charity Ball. From left, Ruthanne Cassidy, Frances Sack, Virginia Jenkins and Miriam DeGroat Johnson. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Four former Middletown Area Federation of Women’s Club presidents were introduced Dec. 5 as Honorary Chairs of the 100th Charity Ball. From left, Ruthanne Cassidy, Frances Sack, Virginia Jenkins and Miriam DeGroat Johnson. SUBMITTED PHOTO

While health concerns over the coronavirus kept the majority of people away, the 100th Charity Ball Celebration Dinner on Dec. 5 was successful, said Fran Sack, one of the chairs.

She said the ball attracted about 50 people, 130 less than typically attend the event that raises money for the Women’s Endowment Service Fund at Atrium Medical Center.

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When organizers from the Middletown Area Federation of Women’s Club (MAFWC) made plans for the final Charity Ball they hoped to attract 300 people, but then COVID-19 hit and there were discussions to cancel the event, Sack said.

Then the committee, after meeting with health officials, eliminated dancing, the silent auction and casino games. Attendees had their temperatures taken at the door, the tables were distanced and hand sanitizer was available throughout the Crown Palaza Banquet Center, Sack said.

“I’m glad we did it,” she said. “You want to go out in style. It was awesome. I just wish more people would have felt comfortable.”

Rick and Saundra Pearce chaired the Charity Ball in 2003 and Saundra, Sack and Barb Strait chaired the ball in 2005.

Rick Pearce, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving MIddletown, Monroe and Trenton, said it’s amazing to think of the Charity Ball’s history.

“I can’t imagine the original organizers having the thought this would last 100 years,” he said.

His wife thanked members of the MAFWC and community volunteers for their “relentless and tireless” hours organizing the event.

“It wasn’t sad,” Pearce said when asked her reaction when the ball ended. “It was a celebration, but I’d be lying if I told you I won’t miss them. It was one of my favorite nights of the year.”

The 2020 theme was “Reflections” and Sack said through Kirsten Spicer’s vision 70 framed posters that had 30 years of articles from past Charity Balls were displayed throughout the banquet center.

Sack hopes to display the posters this summer at the Middletown Arts Center.

Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey and Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, presented proclamations to Virginia Jenkins, president of the MAFWC.

Funds toward this event are being accepted and Sack said the MAFWC will present a check to Atrium Medical Center Foundation on April 29. Over the past 100 years, the ball has provided more than $1.2 million in support to the hospital through a variety of projects, Sack said.

The Charity Ball was sponsored by Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center, Start Skydiving and Middletown TubeWorks as Presenting Sponsors and Journal-News as the Media Sponsor.

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