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Published on May 28, 2014

Hearts of Gold Ball raises funds for Fourth Floor renovation

By Ashleigh Tidwell, Lawrence Journal World reporter

It was a night full of bidding and dancing for attendees of the Hearts of Gold Ball on Saturday night.

In a building that previously housed the Lawrence Journal-World's press room more than 600 people, dressed in their finest suits and gowns, danced the night away to music by Billy Ebeling and the Late for Dinner Band.

The Journal-World hosted the ball to raise money for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association. The event is held every two years and will help fund a renovation of the hospital's fourth floor, which is home to the acute rehab and transitional care units.

"It's one thing everyone can get behind," said Kathy Clausing-Willis, vice president and chief development officer of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. "At some point everyone is touched by the hospital."

The renovations will begin in 2015 and are expected to cost $4 million. Patient rooms will be modified from semi-private to private rooms, and the entire floor will be made more accessible for patients.

"It's important that this floor is world class," Clausing-Willis said. "Lawrence is becoming a retirement community, and we want to make sure our facilities can properly serve the over-65 community."

Organizers of the event also hoped that the unique location would draw interest to the event.

"There was a lot of public intrigue with the location," said Beverly Roelofs, co-chair for the Hearts of Gold Ball. "It's a part of the history of Lawrence."

The location also inspired the theme of the ball: Press On.

"It ties to the rehabilitation concept of pressing on to get patients home," Roelofs said.

Since 1999, the ball has raised more than $1 million for projects at LMH. In years past, the event has helped to fund projects within the Bob Billings Cardiac Observation Unit, the emergency department and the second-floor medical unit.

With this year's ball, the Endowment Association hoped to bring in $300,000 in funds. With help from those in attendance, the event, which featured both a silent and live auction, was able to raise $500,000, more than $200,000 over its goal.

"That's a quarter of our total," Clausing-Willis said. "We feel very lucky that it turned out the way it did."

For those in attendance, it was all about supporting a good cause.

"It's a great resource in Lawrence, and we want to do our part to make sure it is sustained," Skyler O'Hara said. "It is a truly fantastic event."

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