No horsing around, here! Marley's Mission had their 3rd annual Blue Ribbon Gala at the Hilton Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Scranton on Saturday February 16. This event has been helping fulfill the goals that is Marley's Mission, which is giving hope to children and their families, who experienced trauma. Marley's Mission gives therapy sessions, including "ground work" with both trauma therapists and equine specialists as well as the horses, Strawberry, Molly, Lexi, Indy, Lacey, Satin, Fuego, Paige, Mommy Mini, and Baby Mini.
"In just two and a half years, the dedication and generosity of our community has allowed more than 180 children to find hope through Marley's Mission," stated April Loposky, founder of Marley's Mission.
The gala started with a cocktail reception, which was held in the hotel's hallway. Young pianists Zoe Haggerty, daughter of Marley's Mission's vice president Rebecca Haggerty, and Elda Hricko performed on the hotel's piano while the Marley's Mission directors and sponsors mingled with each other in the hallway. The hallway had a few horse-related decorations.
There was an 8-foot high statue of a horse made of approximately 1,500 plastic, recyceable caps. The Abington Art Studio merged with Marley's Mission to create this work of art.
Also in the hallway, there was an ice sculpture and a mosaic, in which people glued square pieces wherever they wanted. The ice sculpture and the mosaic were both designed with a picture of a horse and barn. This was to represent this year's gala theme "What Does a Forever Home Mean to You?"
Local band Into the Spin performed their music inside the ballroom, where guests were seated for the dinner and ceremony. The ceremony started out with an introduction by Masters of Ceremonmy Sofia Ojeda and Thom Welby. Then, there were welcoming remarks from gala co-chairs Kathleen Bell and Gretchen Wintermantel. Father John M. Lapera led the invocation, followed by remarks from Senator Bob Casey.
The special recognition awards were presented by Marley's Mission president Gene Talerico and founder April Loposky. These awards were given to local businesses and sponsors who supported Marley's Mission.
The Golden Bridle Award went to Blackout Design, Inc., Dan Simrell from Dan Simrell Advertising, JonesKahanski, Certified Public Accountants, Matt Burne Honda, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc., and The AmeriHealth Family of Companies. The Gateway Award went to Lackawanna County Children & Youth Services. Keith Eckel and Denise Vitali Burne received the Saddle of Hope Award for inspiring members of Marley's Mission. For being a person under age 18, who has demonstrated exceptional committment to Marley's Mission, Gianni Iona received the Spirit Reigns Award. Tara Iona received the Blue Ribbon Award for selflessness and charity through time and extraordinary dedication to Marley's Mission. The Zachary Award, which is in memory of a 14-month-old victim of child abuse, was given to David Tyler (legislative director of the Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane) and District Attorney Andy Jarbola.
Masters of Ceremony Ojeda and Welby ended the ceremony with closing remarks. It also ended with the drawings of the raffles.
After the ceremony, dancers from the Occhipinti Dance Company from Elmhurst danced their little number in he middle of the ballroom.
During the ceremony, it was announced that Marley's Mission has finally found a permanent home in Newton Twp, PA. The land was donated by Keith Eckel of Eckel Farms. Marley's Mission will move to Newton Twp on July 13.
Marley's Mission thanks everyone who supported them in their two and a half years. They thank all the businesses, sponsors, volunteers, and individuals, who made finding permanent home possible.