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By ANGIE CARNATHAN
Starkville residents are encouraged to have fun for a good cause Friday for the KIDS COUNT Egg Ball at Mississippi State Universityâs Hunter Henry Center.
The event includes a silent and a live auction, heavy hors dâoeuvres, 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.
âWe are excited about our silent and live auctions,â Cohen said. âOnce again, weâve managed to acquire lots of unique and fun items you canât get anywhere else. Anyone looking for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts needs to be there.â
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.
âWhat makes it even better is that the proceeds will benefit Mississippi KIDS COUNT ââ a terrific organization thatÂ is helping to improve outcomes for Mississippiâs children, families, and communities,â Cohen said. âIâm looking forward to working off my Thanksgiving dinner on the dance floor with friends as we support a great cause. You just canât beat that.â
Organizers said attire is casual, which should be convenient for those planning to attend that eveningâs MSU menâs 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 womenâs coach Pat Summitt.
u A Crested Butte, Colo., vacation package.
u A cast-signed laboratory coat from the hit TV series âCSI: NY.â
u Individual cowbells autographed by Food Network star Paula Deen and former President George Bush.
u Dinner for two at Starkvilleâs 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 menâs 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 Centerâs 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.
âLiving in the greater Cincinnati area does not afford me to actively participate in many MSU campus activities,â Rees said. âThis 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.â Â Â
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 stateâs children and provides data that can be used by policy makers and community leaders to make informed decisions for their futures. Â
âWhen taking a data snapshot of our children, we know that Mississippiâs 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,â Buffington said.Â âTheir stories are highlighted in the annual Mississippi KIDS COUNT Data Book, and their ideas are often replicated in other parts of the state.â
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 theÂ achievementsÂ of MSU athletics while benefiting Mississippiâs children. Â
âWe were thrilled to read Scott Stricklinâs tweets on the Egg Ball and Mississippi KIDS COUNT earlier this week,â Southward said.Â âIt continues to be a team effort. We have tremendous support from our community as well as the MSU family.â
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.
âOur state has much work to be done on behalf of our children, but itâs important to remember that good work is being done,â Overstreet said. âPart of KIDS COUNTâs 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.â
Janet Mullins is a member of this yearâs 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.
âTim 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 ââ the rest is history,â Mullins said. âThe Egg Ball quickly became as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as the Egg Bowl and the turkey.â
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.
âWe were all over it,â Mullins said. âWhen you pair up great friends at a great place like theÂ 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 ââ you will not want to miss it.â
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