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Charity Corner: An annual highlight of the Halloween season

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Described by organizers as "a prom night for grown-ups," the mission of the Pumpkin Ball fundraiser gala goes much deeper. Heading into its 13th evening this year, the event has become an annual season highlight for attendees, who get dressed up in tuxes and sparkly gowns to enjoy a festive atmosphere of food, auctions and fun, all to support local kids.

Since the first Pumpkin Ball in 2004, the event has raised more than $1.8 million to support the programs and services of the Sacred Heart Children's Hospital and the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.

"The Pumpkin Ball is fairly unique in that it benefits two charities," says event director Sara Hale. "When it started, the partnership made a lot of sense because the goal of the Nursery is to keep kids safe, and the goal of the hospital is to keep them healthy."

One of Hale's favorite highlights of the event — which is not a costume ball, despite its timing — is the annual pumpkin carving competition, which pits teams of Sacred Heart doctors against local community leaders.

Hale says that each year, Pumpkin Ball beneficiaries share stories of their patients and clients; this year's event will introduce attendees to a Spokane family whose triplets' lives were saved at Sacred Heart's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

"It's really moving, and inspires people to know the money they are giving that night is going to help families like that," Hale says.

Pumpkin Ball funds raised for the hospital are being directed to improvements in the NICU, while money going to the nonprofit crisis nursery will fund regular operating costs, so it can care for more children when local families face times of crisis.

The Pumpkin Ball • Sat, Oct. 22, at 5:30 pm • $150/person; $1,200-$2,000/table of eight • Spokane Convention Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • thepumpkinball.org • 994-4146

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