On Friday night, Aug. 24, a silent auction and dinner will take place in the VIP banquet room at The Palms Island Resort.
An outdoor Community Festival will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Later that night, a Casino Night fundraiser will be held back inside The Palms Island Resort VIP banquet room.
The Community Festival is being organized by Generous America, a non-profit corporation based in Lake Mary.
Vanessa Dziedzic founded the organization in January after watching a “20/20” television story about people in need “in our own backyards.” She lives in the Preserve at Lake Monroe and was a neighbor of the Woodards and the Dechats at the time of the plane crash.
The silent auction, dinner and Casino Night are being organized by Carol Curley and Brian Costello, the owners of Oscar’s Waterfront Bar and Grill and The Park Avenue Pub. Oscar’s is located on Marina Island at 530 N. Palmetto Ave. The Palms Resort is next door to Oscar’s.
Curley and Costello’s 3-year-old daughter Caley was a friend of Gabby Dechat, the 3-year-old daughter of Pete and Millie Dechat who perished in the tragedy. The two girls attended preschool together at the First United Methodist Church.
“In our hearts, this is for Gabi,” Curley said, explaining that when the crash occurred she and Brian tried to keep the news of Gabi’s death from their daughter.
Caley saw a picture of Millie on TV and recognized her has Gabi’s mom. When she saw a picture of Gabi she said, “That’s Gabi.”
Caley then asked if she could visit Gabi’s mom and dad. When told that was not possible at this time, little Caley said, “Let’s get them a new house.”
In lieu of getting the Dechats a new house, Curley said to her daughter, “We’ll do something nice for them and raise a lot of money.”
Although Curley and Costello’s personal connection is to the Dechat family, the money raised this weekend will be split equally between the two families. Curley said Generous America will distribute the proceeds and already has an anonymous donor lined up who has pledged to match the amount raised this weekend.
Auction and dinner
Friday night’s silent auction and dinner begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 11. Dinner tickets are $40 per person. Brian Costello said all the food and labor for the dinner has been donated and all proceeds from the event, with the exception of liquor cost associated with the cash bar, will go to the Dechat and Woodard families.
Oscar’s Bar and Grill and vendors are donating the food and Oscar’s is covering the labor costs for the kitchen and wait staff.
Live entertainment will be provided by two musical acts: Ginger (a solo artist) and The Standing Hampton’s – an eight-piece rock, r&b and country band featuring a female vocalist.
Both musical acts are donating their time and are not being paid for their performances.
The silent auction will be conducted by Artsy Auctions, featuring 50 items from the Scott Laurent collection.
Costello said additional items for the silent auction are still needed.
“We really appreciate what everybody’s doing,” he said.
Those wishing to donate auction items or in need of additional information can contact Carol Curley at 407-731-2393 or e-mail her at: thepalms_carol@ yahoo.com.
Suggested donations for admission to Saturday’s festival are $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under and 25 cents per activity in the children’s area. Kids under 3 are free.
An outdoor concert will take place featuring The Greg Parnell Group, Dave Hillebrandt and Christian acts Commissary, Three Nails, Exciting Gospel Warriors and Still Water. Christian comedian Jeremy Lacorte will also be performing.
The children’s activity area will feature bounce houses, games, clowns and street entertainers. Adults can enjoy bingo, raffles and there will be food vendors on hand. Extra parking will be available at the Seminole County Court House.
Volunteer Sandie Sneed said the festival still needs volunteers. With the likelihood of it being quite warm on Saturday, festival volunteers will only be asked to work three-hour shifts.
“There’s a lot of simple things we need help with,” Sneed said. “We would like to have one adult at each of the bounce houses. We also need volunteers to staff the donation tables, for trash pick up, to sell raffle tickets and to help with bingo. Anybody who wants to volunteer sure would be appreciated.”
Millie Dechat is expected to attend some of the events and will likely be on hand for the Community Festival.
Since being released from the hospital Millie has been able to spend time with her son Daniel Happy as he recovers from his severe burns at the Shriners hospital in Cincinnati.
Those wishing to help with Saturday’s festival are asked to contact Sneed at 407-688-8864. Companies can sponsor activities or donate to the festival by calling 407-310-4118.
A $40 donation during Casino Night earns donors “play chips” for gaming and hors d’ oeuvres. The event begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 11.
Casino Night will take place inside the Palms Island Resort and will feature craps, roulette, horse racing, black jack and more. At the end of the night play chips will be cashed in for raffle tickets and door prizes will be raffled off.
Sponsorship tables are still available for $300 per table or $150 for a shared sponsorship. A four-hour blackjack tournament can be sponsored for $400.
Attendees can also sponsor a virtual “horse race” for $300. Horses can be named for $25 and wagers will be taken on the outcome of each of the races.
Extra chips can be acquired for an additional donation. Music will be provided by a D.J. and a cash bar will be available. For more information call Carol at 407-731-2393.