The Madison Regional Health Foundation's annual Winter Gala will be a virtual event in January, due to COVID-19.
The event will include the prize drawing for the All the Comforts of Home raffle and end with a community-wide five-minute "applause tribute" to employees of Madison Regional Health System, the recipients of the Foundation's Champion of Healthcare Award for 2021, and all area health-care workers and first responders.
A 30-minute pre-recorded program will be streamed at 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 on the Foundation's Facebook Page and website and aired on KJAM 1390 AM radio at that same time.
The gala is usually a festive, in-person event with food and fellowship. This year, however, the Foundation is inviting the whole community to participate, at no charge, in this virtual version from their homes.
"It was important to the foundation that we keep our event on the community's calendar and our cause -- supporting local health care -- on the community's mind, especially now during this pandemic," said Jim Edwards, president of the foundation board of directors. "We are hoping to reach people who haven't attended our annual event in the past and engage the largest audience possible this year as we honor the employees of Madison Regional Health System."
Beth Knuths, foundation director, said that although the foundation board was initially disappointed about having to move to a virtual event, she is pleased with how they pivoted to a new theme and have adapted to the virtual format.
"`Fulfilling the Vision - from Home' is what we're calling the event, incorporating the foundation's tagline with where we'll be for the Winter Gala this year because of COVID: at home," she said.
Knuths said she hopes that viewers will feel a sense of gratitude and pride in what happens in Madison.
"People will see how quickly MRHS implemented new procedures to keep patients and staff healthy and safe during COVID-19. They will appreciate the Madison area businesses and individuals and people from 22 area communities for how they supported Madison Regional Health System during this pandemic," Knuths said.
The program will also show how the foundation supports MRHS and how the community supports the foundation.
The community is encouraged to participate in a special tribute at the end of the event.
"We want everyone to step outside their homes afterwards, at 7:45 p.m., to make a five-minute `pause for applause' to hold up the health-care workers and first responders from their front porches, driveways, etc. We hope people will be loud -- and proud of how these workers have helped our communities through the pandemic," Knuths said. "We were all inspired by news footage of New Yorkers on their balconies and doorsteps, clapping for and cheering on health-care workers. It meant a lot to us to try to coordinate something like that at the end of our event, to rally support, not only for our Champions of Healthcare Award recipients but for all health-care workers and first responders in our area who deserve to be held up by our community for all that they have had to deal with this past year because of COVID-19."
The foundation's annual raffle, "All the Comforts of Home," is currently under way. Buying raffle entries is another way to support the foundation and have a chance to win one of three prizes. These include a $1,000 Montgomery's gift card from Montgomery's Furniture; a $500 Sunshine Foods gift card and a 24-bottle Frigidaire wine refrigerator from Sunshine Foods and Karl's TV & Appliance; and a Traeger Bronson 20 Pellet Grill from Madison Ace Hardware.
For more information, visit on the foundation's website: www.madisonregionalhealth.org/winter-gala.