Organizers are having fun with fundraisers

01/09/2011 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:01 AM

Wichita's long list of fundraising events always offer their share of fun-raising as well, with well-dressed Wichitans socializing, sipping wine and sampling food for a good cause.

But organizers of two fundraisers scheduled in the next couple of months are adding some offbeat entertainment to the mix, hoping to shake up the usual drink-eat-auction norm.

"You get tired of going to the same old things, and you need to change things up," said Lillian Gattis, director of volunteers for Episcopal Social Services. "You need to branch out and do something different to get people there."

Like, perhaps, offer a big cash prize to the city's best celebrity impersonator?

Gattis is one of the organizers of "A Night on the Red Carpet," a fundraiser for Episcopal Social Services that's in its second year.

The event offers attendees a chance to dress up, wine and dine and watch the Academy Awards projected onto a big, big, big screen.

It drew a crowd of 350 last year, good for a first-year event. But Gattis decided to up the excitement by offering a celebrity look-alike contest.

Attendees of the Feb. 27 event are invited (though not required) to walk the Scottish Right Temple's literal red carpet dressed up as their favorite big-screen celebrity.

A panel of judges will select the winner, who will get what Gattis described as a "substantial cash prize." Competitors will register at the door.

Gattis plans a parade of look-alikes during the event.

"I don't know if three people will enter or if 50 people will enter," she said.

Tickets are $75 a person at

Another fun fundraiser coming up is a new event put on by Communities in Schools.

For the past six years, the group's big moneymaking event has been "An Evening on the Bayou," a night of Cajun music, dancing and food.

But this year, it's trying something different — a dueling pianos event called "Rock the Keys."

The event, which will be Jan. 22 at Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas, will feature dueling piano players, a style of entertainment popular in larger cities but not often seen in Wichita.

A dueling pianos evening features a lot of music, dancing and crowd interaction. Two musicians with keyboards position themselves at the front of the crowd and take song requests from the crowd. There are very few songs they don't know, and audience members get into spirited bidding wars to get their music played.

"There's so much interaction, and the competition is fun. It's almost like going to a sports bar when your favorite team is playing, with the rivalry and all the interaction," said Angie Duntz, spokeswoman for Communities in Schools. "It's a great time."

Tickets to the piano part of the evening are $40 a person. Add on dinner and it's $100 a person. They're available by phone at 316-973-5110.

About Denise Neil

Denise has been an Eagle reporter since 1997. She writes about pop culture on Sundays, reviews restaurants on Fridays and blogs at Dining with Denise. Previously, she worked for the Chattanooga Times and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.

Contact Denise at 316-268-6327 or by e-mailing

Follow Denise on Twitter: @DeniseNeil

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