THE CHEFS of the Ohio Valley are known for cooking up delicious food and they will be putting their considerable talents to good use next month to help those in need.
The Wheeling Health Right's annual Chef's Auction will be held May 7 at Wesbanco Arena.
Wheeling Health Right, which is marking its 25th anniversary, provides prescription medicine and medical care to those who are uninsured and do not qualify for government medical assistance. They serve residents of Belmont County in Ohio as well as the West Virginia counties of Ohio, Brooke, Hancock and Wetzel.
Martins Ferry resident Terri Henry, who serves as president of Wheeling Health Right's auxiliary, stated the need for the services provided by the organization has grown tremendously over the years.
"The need has grown as the economy has gone down. Thankfully, even as businesses struggle, they continue to be generous and help us to help others," she said, noting this is the organization's major fundraiser. "Every year we try to out-do ourselves and make it bigger and better and the restaurants of the Ohio Valley honor us by delivering delicious dishes and a good time for all who attend."
This year's Chef's Auction theme is "A Night of International Delights" and will feature food samplings from some of the Ohio Valley's best restaurants and chefs.
"Every year, restaurants from around the Ohio Valley provide about 500 samples each for attendees to enjoy," said Dee Phillips, executive secretary. " There is also a silent auction and a live auction which feature fabulous prize packages. This year, as in past years, the emcee for the event will be Steve Mazure."
Restaurants slated to take part include: Cafe Burress, Oliver's Pies, Stratford Steak & Seafood, Centre Cup Coffee, Parkhurst Dining Services, The Alpha Club, Fusion Japanese Steak House, Quaker Steak & Lube, The Soup Shack, Kirke's Homemade Ice Cream, Salsa Cafe, The Tiki Grille, Metropolitan Citi Grill, Silver Chopsticks, Wesbanco Arena, Wheeling Coffee & Spice, Wheeling Island Hotel/Casino and Wheeling Park/Oglebay.
This year, participating restaurants will be given the "red carpet treatment" and introduced to all in attendance.
West Virginia Northern Community College instructors Gene Evans and Chris Kefauver will be among the judges for prizes award to the restaurants for "Best Food in Casual Dining", "Specialty Dining", "Best Decorations" and "The People's Choice Award."
Sam Thong, a caricature artist from Pittsburgh, will be on hand to create fun portraits of the patrons
The De Ja Vu Band will provide music from the 50s, 60s and 70s through the dinner hour.
Also, Mazure along with auctioneer Jim Frio will be running the live auction throughout the evening where attendees will have a chance to bid on fabulous prizes.
"It is a fun event and we think everyone will have a really great time," said Phillips.
Henry stated event organizers are hoping participating restaurants will get into the spirit and highlight food from around the world.
"We are sure to get a wonderful mixture of flavors as the restaurants show us their best," she said.
Kathy Brown, Wheeling Health Right's executive director, stated those helped by their services are regular people struggling to make it in these tough economic times.
"The people we help are people who work everyday, sometimes they have a few part-time jobs and don't qualify for government assistance. These are the people who fall through the cracks," said Brown, noting services are provided to those who are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. "Our services help keep these people out of the emergency rooms and in the workforce where they are paying into the system. It is a win-win."
Brown said many of the patients who have been helped by Wheeling Health Right are proud people who do not want to be a burden to the community.
"These are hardworking, proud people who don't live on the system. That first step through the doors at our office is the hardest step of all. It is our goal to keep them working and moving forward. We offer them a hand up not a hand out," said Brown.
Brown also noted many who have been helped by Wheeling Health Right have become donors themselves.
"Patients do come back and become donors. They know firsthand the impact we have on lives and want to be a part of it and help others," she said.
Major sponsors for the event include: The Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley, Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, Project Best, Lamar Advertising, WTRF-TV 7, Beyond Marketing, Wheeling Island Hotel/Casino, Rain CII, Dr. and Mrs. James Comerci and Dr. and Mrs. Peter Bala.
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