BMH Foundation reveals Valentine Ball organizers

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Beaufort Memorial Hospital President and CEO Rick Toomey and his wife Dr. Linda Hawes are teaming up with a local volunteers George and Mary Lee Grove to put on Beaufort’s social event of the season — the Valentine Ball.
The signature fundraiser of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Feb. 9 affair at the historic Lyceum on Parris Island includes all the usual gala accoutrements — live music, decadent desserts and a

From left: Beaufort Memorial Hospital CEO Rick Toomey, his wife, Dr. Linda Hawes, with Mary Lee Grove and her husband George Grove.

silent auction.
But that’s just half of the festivities. Guests also receive an invitation to a pre-ball dinner party at a private residence.
“The dinner parties are the highlight of the evening,” said Hawes, who has attended the ball every year since moving to Beaufort in 2008. “The hosts really try to make it special.”

Some 50 residents have volunteered their homes for the fundraiser. In addition to providing the venue, they plan and pay for the dinner, increasing the net profit for the foundation.
Organizing a gala for 800 guests requires hundreds of community volunteers, who work in teams on a particular task. The dinner party committee, for instance, spends one full day just putting together the guest list for each dinner. Using a spread sheet, they carefully select six to 12 couples per party, creating different and diverse groups each year.
“We’re newbies at this thing, so we’re getting a lot of help,” said Hawes, a hospitalist at BMH. “Rick will be involved with the sponsors and I’m helping find chairpersons for each committee.”
While Hawes and Toomey may be new at chairing the hospital’s major fundraiser, their co-chairmen have lots of experience with the event.
“I’m just a potted plant,” quipped George Grove. “Mary Lee does all the real work.”
An interior designer in Atlanta for 25 years, Mary Lee Grove has been involved with the ball since retiring to the area 10 years ago. She started out as a volunteer on the decorating committee after being prodded by a friend who was serving as co-chair of the ball.
“It was so much fun working with the people at the foundation,” she said, “the following year I volunteered to help with invitations.”
She has grown move involved with the ball over the years, serving as chairman of two of the event’s 12 committees.
“The hospital is a very worthy cause,” Grove said. “We’ve seen what the foundation has done with the money. Beaufort Memorial continues to grow and improve.”
Since its inception in 1990, the Valentine Ball has raised $3.7 million. The money has been used to upgrade technology throughout the hospital and expand and enhance facilities and services. This year’s proceeds are earmarked for the expansion and relocation of LifeFit Wellness Services.
The full-service, medically supervised fitness and wellness center offers individual and group exercise, nutrition advice and personal counseling, as well as a number of outreach programs designed to help people stay healthy and live active lives.
Tickets to the Valentine Ball start at $150 per person and include several levels of contributions. To receive an invitation to one of the private dinner parties, you must purchase your ticket by Jan. 14. Reservations can be made online at www.valentineball.org or by calling 843-
522-5774.