Rascal Flatts rakes in cash for children’s shelter

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 170 views 

ROGERS — Some blockbuster acts have been helping charities push gala contributions well over the top lately, and quintuple-platinum country music artist Rascal Flatts did just that for the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter last weekend (March 9).

The 10th annual event Starlight Gala, held at the Hammons Convention Center in Rogers, raised more than $440,000 for the shelter, nearly a third more than was garnered in 2011. (The previous weekend, the American Diabetes Association raked in a shocking $372,000 using “Rock of Love” star Bret Michaels to reel in the bucks.)

The gala, the shelter’s largest annual fundraiser, provides a large huge portion of the organization’s annual budget.
   
“Even though all the kids we care for are brought to us by the state, the reimbursement we receive makes up only 20 percent of the budget, which currently is about $3.2 million. We rely on the support of the community for the other 80 percent,” said Steve Schotta, the shelter’s executive director. “When we can make more than 11 percent of our annual budget in a single night, that is huge. Every dollar raised helps us care for more abused and neglected children.”
   
Attendance nearly doubled from last year, with an all-time high of 47 sponsors kicking in $5,000 or more. All proceeds, including ticket sales and receipts from live and silent live auctions, went to the shelter, a private, nonprofit emergency shelter established in 1993. The Benton County facility offers 24-hour emergency residential care to children who are victims of domestic violence, neglect and physical and sexual abuse and currently serves about 500 children every year.

Live auction items included an all-inclusive seven-day Jamaican getaway, a one-week vacation to a French chateau, a trip to the taping of TV’s “The Biggest Loser” season finale and a Rascal Flatts concert package including backstage passes. Silent auction items included everything from gift baskets to custom artwork.

Dick Trammel made a special appeal to Friday’s crowd, hoping to raise an additional $50,000 for the shelter’s on-site school. Started in 1998 as a part of the Bentonville School District, it allows the shelter children to more easily adjust to the experience as a resident, Trammel said. The small class sizes and the one-on-one instruction of the on-site school provide students the opportunity to make great academic progress in only a short amount of time.

Shaden Jedlicka, a University of Arkansas – Fort Smith junior and vice president of university’s student government, recounted his time as a resident at the children’s shelter. At age 9, he and his siblings came to the shelter as victims of neglect and abuse, and he attributes his successes later in life to the support and individual attention that he received at the shelter.

Rascal Flatts lit up the Hammons center with an exciting performance, ending on the rousing anthem “Life is a Highway.” More than 1,100 cocktail attire-clad guests waved their arms, danced and sang along to this fan favorite. A post-show A VIP reception gave gold-level sponsors an opportunity to meet Rascal Flatts and have photos taken with members of the band.