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Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2008

VNA sets stage to raise hospice house support

Lawrence School district Superintendent Randy Weseman, right, and Kansas University medical student Courtney Bone practice salsa dancing Friday at Centennial School's gym. The two will be part of a fundraiser for Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care agency on April 19.

Lawrence School district Superintendent Randy Weseman, right, and Kansas University medical student Courtney Bone practice salsa dancing Friday at Centennial School's gym. The two will be part of a fundraiser for Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care agency on April 19.

March 30, 2008

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Local celebrities put their dancing shoes on for a good cause

He may not be the next champion of "Dancing with the Stars" - but Lawrence school superintendent Randy Weseman is willing to give ballroom dancing a whirl. Enlarge video

Past Event
VNA Hospice Guest House Fundraiser

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce's Young Professionals Network is having a fundraiser for the VNA's new hospice guest house.

  • When: Saturday, April 19, 2008, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Fatso's, 1016 Mass., Lawrence
  • More on this event....

Party hosts wanted

The VNA is looking for people to support by:

1. Planning a party on or near April 19.

2. Inviting friends to join.

3. Asking guests to "buy" their meal or appetizers by making a donation to the VNA agency for its hospice guest house. Each host will be given a video about the agency to show to guests.

4. Bringing guests to the Lawrence Arts Center at 8 p.m. April 19 for drinks, dancing and dessert. There also will be a local celebrity dance off.

If you would like to host a party, call Judith Bellome or Sarah Randolph at 843-3738. The deadline to sign up is April 11.

He may not have the moves of "Dancing with the Stars" champions Drew Lachey or Emmitt Smith, but he's willing to give ballroom dancing a whirl.

Besides, it's for a good cause.

He will be among a group of Lawrence celebrity dancers who will provide entertainment during a fundraiser for a new hospice guest house.

"It's absolutely a new adventure for me," said Lawrence school district Superintendent Randy Weseman. "I am more than willing to get up and play the guitar, but I've never got up and danced like this. I am a bit nervous."

He will be dancing with Courtney Bone, a Kansas University medical student who is teaching Weseman how to salsa to Shakira's song "Whenever, Wherever."

"My goal is to not embarrass her," Weseman said.

The other celebrity dancers are former Mayor Mike Rundle and state Sen. Marci Francisco, and Ric and Jeanne Averill, who are well-known in the arts community.

They will show off their dance moves as part of the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care agency's second annual "Dine, Dance and Donate" fundraiser on April 19.

The fundraiser is a communitywide social event where couples host a party for about 10 friends and learn about the VNA, then everyone meets at 8 p.m. at the Lawrence Arts Center for drinks, dessert and dancing. That's where the celebrities will perform. The couples' guests are encouraged to make a donation in lieu of what it would have cost to pay for food and entertainment.

"We are not looking for $1,000 checks. We are looking for an opportunity for public relations and to spread information about services for VNA and hospice," said Judith Bellome, chief executive of the nonprofit agency.

Last year, 33 couples participated in the benefit, which raised $25,000 for leasing new telemonitor machines. This year's goal is to raise about $35,000. The money would help fund a new hospice guest house that would serve four people who don't have family members or a support system to take care of them in the home.

"It's kind of assisted living," Bellome said. "It keeps people, who otherwise have no other place to go, out of the nursing home setting and out of the hospital in many cases."

The VNA's board of directors recently approved the purchase of a $350,000, four-bedroom house that could be opened this year. The hospice guest house will be paid for by donations, fundraisers and money from its endowment.

Bellome said there is a need for such a house in this community.

"Assisted living is not real interested in taking people that already know that they are toward the end of life," she said. "The majority of people in the United States as well as in just our own community would prefer to die at home or in a home-like surrounding with people they love and care about. So, that's what we are trying to do is provide that kind of a setting."

Molly Wood, an elder law attorney with Stevens & Brand, believes the VNA is an important community organization and that's why she hosted a party last year and is co-hosting another one this year.

"Most of my clients are at the end of their lives, so I see how important it is to have that service," she said. "It's one of the charities that is close to my heart."

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