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People with a passion for causes gathered for several recent fund-raisers.
Heartbeat of Toledo's annual "Life is Beautiful" banquet was held recently at the Premier Banquet Hall with more than 500 attendees. Heartbeat of Toledo provides information and support to pregnant women and helps mothers, fathers, and babies in need.
Guest speaker Gianna Jessen, a pro-life activist, spoke of her story that was the inspiration for the 2012 film October Baby and for which she performed a song on the film's soundtrack.
Two new awards were presented. The John Hillabrand and Lore Maier Life Champion Award named after the two individuals who began Heartbeat of Toledo 42 years ago and formed Heartbeat International a network of 1,400 pregnancy centers worldwide, was presented to Ann Barrick, who started ProLifeConnection and coordinated the 40 Days for Life Campaign locally.
Honored with the Esther Applegate Volunteer Award, named after a founding volunteer at Heartbeat of Toledo, was Lois Welch, who has served as board president for two years and is one of the volunteer sonographers.
The event raised about $90,000. The committee included Carol Clark, Sara Freeman, Kathy Lieser, Mary Jo Magill, Mary Pope, Juanita Sattler, John Shaffer, Mary Kay Urbanski, and Ms. Welch.
The second annual Blue Grass & Green Acres event to benefit the Black Swamp Conservancy was held recently at the Bowling Green State University Lenhart Grand Ballroom. The 300-some supporters -- many clad in jeans, boots, and vests -- entered to the sounds of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra string quartet picking Americana favorites and later to the Wayfarers bluegrass band from southern Ohio.
The conservancy, founded in 1993, is celebrating 20 years of protecting northwest Ohio's agricultural land and natural areas. The volunteer-led organization protects 12,875 acres of farmland and natural lands from the threat of development.
Dining stations offered food as supporters shopped the silent and live auctions that included tailgate parties, a Lake Erie day, hunting, fishing, bird watching, and gardening.
Board president Tom Reed welcomed everyone before accepting the Ohio Farmland Preservation Ambassador award from Denise Franz King, executive director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture Office of Farmland Preservation. Also honored were Tom VonSeggern, Conservancy board member and landowner, and his wife, Laurie.
Board members present included Don Leary, Steve Taylor, Katie Rousseau, Eric Kraus, Craig Kerr, Sally Gladwell, Karen Wood, Ford Weber, and Julie Higgins. Also seen were Dave and Jan Merrell, Mary Lou and Phil Rudolph, Jr., Bill and Paula Fall, Virginia and Steve Keller, Rick Bryan and Jeanny Amidon, Katie and Nick Marconi, Nicole and JB LeBoutillier, Beth and Joe Westmeyer, Andrea and Matt DeWood, and Laurie and Rick Avery.
More than $20,000 was raised for the Conservancy. Committee members were Jenny Kraus, Katie Rousseau, and Laurie VonSeggern.
Gradkowski's Dining & Spirits was the place to be for the recent "A Night Out with Partners In Education." About 140 guests sipped cocktails and nibbled appetizers and then dined. Many shopped the auction which included an autographed Bengals' jersey donated by restaurant owner Bruce Gradkowski.
The event raised more than $4,500 for Partners In Education of Toledo to support the College Coach program to foster higher college graduation rates through family-designated coaches who will work with youths from fifth grade through their sophomore year of college.