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Heartland Cancer Foundation hosted its third annual Mardi Gras Casino Royale Feb. 9 at Wilderness Ridge. Nearly 300 guests enjoyed casino gaming and a silent auction, which included items such as a Scott Frost-signed football, a trip to Rome to see the Pope and a Goldendoodle puppy.

New to the event was a bourbon room, where guests could enjoy a four-flight tasting or “pull” a bagged mystery bottle. Entertainment included live jazz by the Darryl White Trio with Mannheim Steamroller guitarist Ron Cooley, bassist Dr. Hans Sturm and local cover band Thirty Second Hangover at the Joie De Vivre after-party.

New Orleans-inspired food stations, set up throughout the main dining room and ballroom, included Andouille Sausage Pigs-in-blankets, BBQ Bourbon Meatballs, Coconut Shrimp Skewers, a Gourmet Mac & Cheese bar, Muffaletta sliders, Beignets, and fruit and lavosh with imported and local cheeses.

The signature drink, aptly named The Big Easy, was a French Quarter-themed red hurricane set off with a wedge of pineapple.

Festive decorations included centerpieces made of giant purple plumes pouring out of 4-foot glass cylinders, which were filled with gold masks and fairy lights. The Ridge’s wood columns were skirted in Mardi Gras-colored satins topped with a glowing mask, and jumbo paper lanterns were suspended above the casino tables.

Jack Mitchell and Coby Mach of KLIN emceed the program. It included a welcome by Larry Albers, HCF board president; recognition of Susan Howell, program director; and a talk by special guest and grant recipient Darren McCarty.

The program commenced with a special drawing for items donated by Schaefer’s, and a “Split-Cash” drawing where the winner took home half of the on-the-spot cash donations accumulated throughout the night.

Proceeds from the event totaled $45,000, which will help reduce the financial stress that lower-income cancer patients in our community experience while undergoing cancer treatment. Heartland Cancer Foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and practical assistance to cancer patients so they can focus on healing.

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