Great Balls of Fire a smokin’ good time |

Great Balls of Fire a smokin’ good time

Jerry Lee Lewis would’ve been proud.The eighth annual Carbondale Rotary Club fundraiser, with its tongue-in-cheek title of “Great Balls of Fire,” was a raging hit.”We had almost 600 people,” said the fundraiser’s chairwoman, Jody Ensign. “It was a great success.””We had a lot of people from downvalley, as far away as Rifle,” said club president Jim Whitsitt. “We had very strong attendance.”The evening on June 10 began with a catered meal, followed by a silent auction, and culminated with a concert put on by Bobby Mason’s All-Star Band.”It’s a great event,” said Frank Betts, who’s been a member of the Carbondale Rotary for six years.The only problem with “Great Balls of Fire,” he said, is that it’s getting to be too big to be held behind the Carbondale firehouse, which has become sort of a tradition for the club.”We could’ve used more space this year,” said Betts. “At this point space is probably the biggest limitation. If we want to expand the event next year, that’s something we’ll have to look at.”Betts said his favorite part of the evening was getting to see all the people who attended the event.”You get a huge amount of people that come from all over the valley that you only get to see once or twice a year,” he said.”It’s one of the better attended nonprofit fundraisers in this part of the valley,” acknowledged Whitsitt.And all that attendance should mean good things for Carbondale.At $100 a ticket, minus a handful of complimentary tickets for companies who contributed to the club, that means the Rotarians are looking at a profit of roughly $50,000 plus whatever they made off their silent auction, which in itself was worth approximately $75,000.Though the final numbers haven’t been compiled yet, Whitsitt said he was very happy with the result, and expects that the club will gross between $55,000 and $70,000.”Our goal is to pay for the cost of the event through corporate and individual sponsorships,” he said. “We raised about $45,000 for that.”Whitsitt said the major beneficiary this year will be the Thunder River Theater Company.”A substantial percentage of (the proceeds) will go to them,” said Whitsitt. “In the past it’s been typical for us to earmark $10,000 for major beneficiaries. I suspect strongly that they’re going to do a lot better this year.”The remainder of the money will be poured back into the community through various Rotary grants and community causes over the next year, Whitsitt said.”We utilize the proceeds to fund all our community service deeds,” he said.

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