By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Starkville residents are encouraged to have fun for a good cause Friday for the KIDS COUNT Egg Ball at Mississippi State University’s Hunter Henry Center.
The event includes a silent and a live auction, heavy hors d’oeuvres, drinks and musical entertainment by The King Beez, a popular rhythm and blues band from Memphis, Tenn.
Ball tickets are $60 per individual and available at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership office in downtown Starkville or online at http://www.2011eggball.com . Some tickets will be available the night of the event, but organizers encourage those attending to purchase their tickets in advance.
Proceeds from the Egg Ball will allow youth and their families from across the state to attend the annual KIDS COUNT Summit in February.
MISSISSIPPI KIDS COUNT Advisory Board Member Nelle Cohen said she expects the Egg Ball to be big fun.
“We are excited about our silent and live auctions,” Cohen said. “Once again, we’ve managed to acquire lots of unique and fun items you can’t get anywhere else. Anyone looking for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts needs to be there.”
Cohen said she is excited about putting on a great party in Starkville the night before MSU hosts the Egg Bowl, and the committee is expecting a large turnout.
“What makes it even better is that the proceeds will benefit Mississippi KIDS COUNT –– a terrific organization that is helping to improve outcomes for Mississippi’s children, families, and communities,” Cohen said. “I’m looking forward to working off my Thanksgiving dinner on the dance floor with friends as we support a great cause. You just can’t beat that.”
Organizers said attire is casual, which should be convenient for those planning to attend that evening’s MSU men’s basketball game at Humphrey Coliseum.
A variety of auction items will be available for purchase.
Among auction items:
u A basketball autographed by University of Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt.
u A Crested Butte, Colo., vacation package.
u A cast-signed laboratory coat from the hit TV series “CSI: NY.”
u Individual cowbells autographed by Food Network star Paula Deen and former President George Bush.
u Dinner for two at Starkville’s Restaurant Tyler with MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin and wife Anne, MSU Football Coach Dan Mullen and wife Megan, and MSU Baseball Coach John Cohen and wife Nelle.
u A Taylor Swift music package.
u Two tickets to the men’s semi-final round at the Regions-Morgan Keegan Tennis Championship in Memphis.
Funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Mississippi KIDS COUNT operates under the MSU Social Science Research Center’s Family and Children Research Unit. The organization works to investigate issues affecting the health, safety and well-being of children and families statewide.
Sheila Rees of Cincinnati, Ohio, said she became involved with KIDS COUNT through the encouragement of her college roommate, Anne Buffington. She said she is honored to help improve the outcomes for children in Mississippi.
“Living in the greater Cincinnati area does not afford me to actively participate in many MSU campus activities,” Rees said. “This year I have worked with the committee via conference calls on auction ideas, and because the Egg Ball is held during the Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I are able to attend.”
Buffington, of the Family and Children Research Unit in the Social Science Research Center at MSU, said Mississippi KIDS COUNT takes a detailed look at the education, health, safety, and economic well-being of the state’s children and provides data that can be used by policy makers and community leaders to make informed decisions for their futures.
“When taking a data snapshot of our children, we know that Mississippi’s numbers are less than optimal in well-being indicators, but we also know that there are many organizations and communities which are dedicated to improving outcomes and are doing it on a daily basis,” Buffington said. “Their stories are highlighted in the annual Mississippi KIDS COUNT Data Book, and their ideas are often replicated in other parts of the state.”
KIDS COUNT Director Linda Southward said the Egg Ball is a true collaboration between community volunteers and Mississippi State that has created a wonderful new tradition to celebrate the achievements of MSU athletics while benefiting Mississippi’s children.
“We were thrilled to read Scott Stricklin’s tweets on the Egg Ball and Mississippi KIDS COUNT earlier this week,” Southward said. “It continues to be a team effort. We have tremendous support from our community as well as the MSU family.”
Board chair and MSU graduate Wade Overstreet said he is proud of the mission of KIDS COUNT and the value that MSU brings to Mississippi.
“Our state has much work to be done on behalf of our children, but it’s important to remember that good work is being done,” Overstreet said. “Part of KIDS COUNT’s purpose is to highlight this good work and to help organizations across the state replicate these efforts, and the Egg Ball is a fun way to support our work.”
Janet Mullins is a member of this year’s Egg Ball committee and has been involved with the Egg Ball from the beginning. Mullins said the idea of an Egg Ball originated with a great group of friends bound together by love and support of the MSU Bulldogs.
“Tim Lyons, Bill Smith, Bill Reeves, JC Patton, Dan Templeton, myself and others spread the word to friends that wanted to unite the night before the Egg Bowl to socialize and build excitement for the game the next day –– the rest is history,” Mullins said. “The Egg Ball quickly became as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as the Egg Bowl and the turkey.”
Mullins said that last year the group was approached by KIDS COUNT of MS to possibly enlarge the event by teaming up with them for a fundraiser that would benefit the kids of Mississippi.
“We were all over it,” Mullins said. “When you pair up great friends at a great place like the Hunter Henry Center with great food and libations from Harding Catering and add a great band and an amazing silent auction, all for a great cause –– you will not want to miss it.”
Sponsors of event include John and Nelle Cohen, Steve and Melody Golding, Wade Overstreet, Renasant Bank and Clark Beverage Co.
For more about the 2011 Egg Ball, call 662-325-1590. For more about MS KIDS COUNT, please visit http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/mskidscount/.s