By ANGIE CARNATHAN
The Oktibbeha/Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services will hold its second annual Bully Gras Ball tonight at the Starkville Country Club.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and is the groupâ€™s largest fundraiser for the year. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Flames, a popular rhythm and blues tribute band. The ball also features dancing, food, a special appearance by MSU mascot Bully and the presentation of the Bully Gras Royal Court.
According to a release, the theme of the ball is meant to bring together and celebrate New Orleans flair with Mississippi State University Athletics. A Bully Gras king and queen will be chosen through a unique system of voting, Amanda Edwards, OSERVS board vice chair, said.
â€śPeople vote for their favorite team by making a donation to OSERVS in the name the couple of theyâ€™d like to become king and queen,â€ť Edwards said. â€śThe donation can be any dollar amount to cast a vote. For example, $1 equals one vote, and $1,000 equals one vote. However, when it comes to selecting a king and queen, the couple who raises the most money from ball-goers will be crowned Bully Gras King and Queen for 2012.â€ť
Court members include Richard and Jennifer Blackbourn, Rocky and Audrey McBride, Marc McGee and Emily Jones, and Dan Moreland and daughter, Kim Moreland.
Last yearâ€™s king and queen were Mike Tagert and Arma de la Cruz.
â€śStarkville and the region are very fortunate to have OSERVS and the good folksÂ who lead this organization,â€ť Tagert said. â€śThe Bully Gras Ball isÂ the perfectÂ time for the community to show our appreciation for all that they do.Â Great food, great people and a great cause are hard to beat.â€ťÂ
Edwards said tonightâ€™s ball promises to be one of the best yet.
â€śThose attending not only enjoy good food and fellowship and great entertainment but also help to raise money to support the work OSERVS does year-round in helping those affected by disasters and in educating the community about emergency and disaster preparedness,â€ť Edwards said.
In 2011, the Bully Gras Ball raised nearly $20,000 for OSERVS. The funds helped provide assistance to local victims of house fires, the December 2010 tornado which struck Starkville and the April 2011 tornado which scarred much of Webster County.
â€śSo many people have reached out to support us,â€ť OSERVS Board Chair Carol Moss Read said. â€śThe money raised from this event stays in our community and helps people right here at home.â€ť
Leaders of OSERVS said they hope this eveningâ€™s Bully Gras Ball will help in continuing to build the agencyâ€™s funding base. The goal of the groupâ€™s volunteers is to expand emergency and disaster training programs within the community and to keep providing support to the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency.
â€śJust as important as helping those in our neighboring communities has been our ability to help those here in Starkville and Oktibbeha County,â€ť OSERVS Communication Chair Brian Hawkins said. â€śWhen weâ€™ve had storm damage here or seen families who have lost homes due to residential fires, weâ€™ve been able to provide multiple nights in local motels for those put out of their homes and apartments as well as provide toiletries and gift cards for clothing and other necessities. The money we raise makes a difference.â€ť
Tickets for the 2012 Bully Gras Ball are $50 per person, and Edwards said there is still a limited number of tickets that can be purchased at the door.
For more information, contact OSERVS at 662-384-2200 during the agencyâ€™s regular operating hours, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Friday. The OSERVS office is located at 100 Hwy. 12 East at South Jackson Street.
Donations to OSERVS can be made by check and mailed to OSERVS, P.O. Box 443, Starkville, MS 39760.