story and photos by Emily Hilley-Sierzchula
People arrived at the Walton Arts Center ready for a dose of homegrown Arkansas country music; cowboy boots and Western wear were in vogue for the 21st annual Washington Regional Medical Foundation Gala and Eagle Awards fundraiser Tuesday evening (April 8).
Award-winning country musician Joe Nichols, of Rogers, and his band were the headlining performers, preceded by Fayetteville-based country band Backyard Anthem. About 950 people attended the event, said Amy Linimon Mason, WRMF director of development and external relations.
The WRMF gives the Eagle Awards each year for excellence in health care, which means “demonstrating leadership and showing a commitment to improving health care in the region,” Mason said. Kathy Grisham, executive director of the Community Clinic, and the Washington Regional project Faith in Action were the honorees this year.
Grisham has overseen the Community Clinic as it has grown from “a small church-based outreach program into a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves more than 30,000 residents” in Washington and Benton counties each year, according to a press release. The clinic is expected to grow more in the future because of the Affordable Care Act. Faith in Action is an organization of volunteers who help homebound senior citizens with everyday chores and errands.
Washington Regional representatives declined to disclose the amount of money expected to be raised by the event.
“We won’t know until everything’s over and we count everything,” said Gina Maddox, communications specialist with Washington Regional.
The gala’s proceeds came from a combination of ticket sales and sponsorships, Mason said.
Money raised by the fundraiser will be used for an “endovascular neurosurgical hybrid operating suite” at the hospital, which is designed to help stroke victims and those with other neurological disorders in a minimally invasive way. Bill Bradley, WRMC president and chief operating officer, described the suite as big-city technology in a relatively small town. It will be the only operating suite of its kind in Arkansas.