Smile Politely

CCAMR returns to Alto Vineyards

This Friday, July 13, Champaign County Advocacy and Mentoring Resources (CCAMR) will hold its 2nd annual fundraiser at Alto Vineyards in Champaign. CCAMR is a group focused on raising funds to improve the quality of life for adults with intellectual disabilities in Champaign County.

Tickets for the event are $25 or $45 for a pair (in advance) and include a CCAMR wine glass, local BBQ, local music, and a silent auction. The silent auction will include a variety of sports memorabilia and local prizes, including a signed jersey from University of Illinois Basketball, a signed football and helmet from U of I Football, a framed watercolor print from local artist Charlotte Brady, two tickets to the Grizzly Bear/Dinosaur Jr. performance at Pygmalion Festival, and $50 to Champaign Cycle.

Wines from Alto Vineyards and beer from fundraiser sponsor Flying Dog will also be available for purchase.

Smile Politely caught up with CCAMR board member Mike Slagor to ask him what everyone can expect to experience at the event this year.

Smile Politely: SP previewed last year’s fundraiser, which turned out to be quite a success. Even Mayor Don Gerard was in attendance. What should people expect this year?

Mike Slagor: People can expect some amazing music from Candy Foster and food from Lil’ Porgy’s, Hooters, and Milo’s. It’s a BBQ theme this year, and we even thought about our vegan and vegetarian friends with some vegan chili and salads. People can also expect great silent auction items in order to raise money to provide mini-grants to adults with intellectual disabilities. I’m most looking forward to the local music package at our silent auction, featuring music from Elsinore, Headlights, Common Loon, DiBiase, New Ruins, Curb Service, Tricia Scully, Evil Tents, Empires, Andrew Bird, etc. There’s even merchandise from those bands, including an awesome HUM poster.

SP: Wowzers. So everything you offerfood, music, and items for auction — is donated for this event, correct?

Slagor: Most everything, yes. If it wasn’t donated, then we’ve used money from sponsorships. We are very grateful to the local businesses in the area, especially Alto Vineyards for hosting and providing a free wine glass with our CCAMR logo on it.

SP: That makes this not only a CCAMR fundraiser, but also a community-wide event then?

Slagor: Yes, a community event indeed. We encourage families to come enjoy the music and food, and especially the great wine.

SP: You’re returning to Alto Vineyards again this year. What brings you guys back this year?

Slagor: The space and scenery at Alto Vineyards is the perfect setting for an event like this. Open space to mingle, help yourself to food, enjoy the sunset over some blues music. Nothing better than enjoying some locally grown wine along with local music and local food!

SP: Last year included a mix of local musicians (Street Level Doppler, Ryan Groff, and Tricia Scully). This year you will have Candy Foster and Shades of Blue. Those guys never seem to stop (I think they were even in the Fourth of July parade last week). What drew you to them for this event? What can those who are unfamiliar with them expect to see and hear from them at the event?

Slagor: We greatly appreciated the local musicians who helped out last year, and are also looking forward to Candy Foster and Shades of Blue. For someone who has been performing around the area for over 40 years, Candy Foster does not slow down at all! People can expect three hours of high energy blues; there’s no doubt about it.

SP: Last year, WCIA-TV anchor Jennifer Roscoe was the MC and she really made the event a lot of fun for everyone. Is there an MC this year?

Slagor: There is no MC this year, although a few CCAMR Board Members may be speaking throughout the event. We’re excited for Candy Foster and Shades of Blue to provide some amazing music as the foundation of the evening.

SP: How much were you able to raise for CCAMR at last year’s fundraiser?

Slagor: We raised a few thousand dollars last year, and we’re obviously hopeful to top that this Friday!

SP: You and your wife Jenny became board members last May before the fundraiser. What have you learned in the past year as part of CCAMR?

Slagor: We have a unique opportunity to work with students with moderate and severe disabilities at the high school level. What CCAMR does is so important because as the State of Illinois decreases or holds its funding for human services, we witness a lot of young adults with disabilities and their families struggling to find support for daily activities such as working, shopping, or leisure activities. We have learned that there are a few organizations in town that can provide that support, and what CCAMR focuses on is providing a specific individual with a mini-grant that can make that happen, rather than a larger organization trying to support dozens or hundreds of clients. Even though our organization operates on a small scale, these grant opportunities for adults with disabilities and their families have changed lives.

The CCAMR fundraiser is from 6:00–9:00 p.m. on Friday, July 13th. See CCAMR’s Facebook page for additional information.

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