11th Annual April Foolies has new co-chairs
By Aaron Killian | Special to The Daily Times
Debra Whaley is no fool, but she will gladly play the fool for a good cause.
Whaley is co-chairing this year’s April Foolies talent show fundraiser to benefit The Gate and New Hope.
With this being Whaley’s first year heading up the committee, she is excited to build on the momentum April Foolies has created over its 11 years.
“We’re bringing back some crowd favorites and adding some new talent to the lineup,” Whaley said. “Also, Sammy Sawyer is back as Barney Fife to perform in between acts and work the crowd, and Hallerin Hilton Hill will be our MC.”
Whaley is no stranger to the event as she and her band Steel Kickin’ have performed in the last three April Foolies.
However, this year Whaley decided to take a role backstage with co-chair Michael Kelley. Whaley is a board member of The Gate and Kelley is a new board member for New Hope.
Christy Walsh, executive director of The Gate, said funding from April Foolies is critical to support the agency’s mission to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve independence by providing social and vocational activities.
“The Gate relies on April Foolies,” Walsh said. “As one of our main fundraisers, monies that we raise provide us with appropriate staffing to insure the safety of all 48 of The Gate’s participants.”
For New Hope, funding from April Foolies will help the organization provide services to children and families experiencing the trauma of child abuse.
New Hope’s Executive Director Trudy Hughes said, “Our portion of the proceeds will be utilized to support our therapy services for child abuse victims and their families.”
In addition to benefiting fiscally from the event, Walsh said April Foolies is a great opportunity to give her organization more exposure to the community.
“There are many families in Blount County who need services for adults with disabilities, but they are unaware of our program,” Walsh said. “Where else can we reach 1,200 people at one event?”
Whaley noted, “We plan on this being a sellout show, so get your tickets early. It’s the hottest and most affordable ticket in town. To go to The Clayton Center for $15 and see such a variety of great performances is a rare treat.”
April Foolies, the “Talent Show with a Twist,” is set for 7 p.m. March 30 at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Tickets are available at New Hope, The Gate, the Clayton Center Box Office, and from committee members. Tickets are $15 each.
VIP tickets are available for $30 each, which includes admission to the show and a post-show reception with beverages and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Like April Foolies on Facebook for more information.