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Games for Grown Ups, Futures for Kids

Story by Bill Bannister  |  Photos by Don Perry

As one of the Mid-South’s most important institutions, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes a significantly positive impact in our community. Recent events in our nation and our city illustrate that young people are crying out for connection and opportunity. It is through the important work of Big Brothers Big Sisters that over 45,000 young people, known as “Opportunity Youth” — not in school or working, are given a direction and the mentoring that takes them off the path to trouble and onto the path of building lives as productive, successful citizens. One of the biggest fundraising events of the year that provides the means by which this work is done is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mid-South, Inc. SportsBall.

This year’s SportsBall was held at Minglewood Hall, where more than 800 supporters turned out for a night of Games for Grownups and Futures for Kids. Caesars Entertainment brought out the games, which included not only foosball and video games, but blackjack, craps and roulette, complete with professional dealers. Upon check-in, each guest was given $50,000 in casino play money with which to buy their chips and place their bets. If the excitement of all that gaming action wasn’t enough, there were tables of treasures up for bid in the spectacular silent auction. Items included an original Sun Records 45 of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin”, complete with a check made out to The Killer, a ticket to an Elvis “concert that never was” scheduled for August 16, 1977, a replica of Elvis’ sabre tooth tiger necklace, a trip to Magic Springs and gift certificates to Fleming’s Steakhouse, The Memphis Zoo, Huey’s, Wiseacre Brewing and Buster’s. There was jewelry from the Jackie Kennedy Collection by Camrose and Kross, as well as vintage concert posters of Ike and Tina Turner and James Brown.

All of that excitement can work up an appetite, and the 2017 SportsBall had the situation covered with a vast buffet that started with an assortment of cheeses and sausage, along with eggplant, squash and pickled okra, and moved on to a cornucopia of fruit including watermelon, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple. There were grilled fish tacos with cilantro lime aoli, Papachos potato wedges with jalapeno queso, barbecue sliders with spicy coleslaw, chicken Philly sandwiches with red and green bell peppers, pretzel dogs with mustard relish and spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips. A huge array of desserts included brownies, coconut macaroons, chocolate mousse shooters and pineapple gooey buttercake. There can’t be a proper party without beverages, so there were two enormous fully stocked bars offering every imaginable libation.

The SportsBall live auction offered up a vintage Les Paul Gibson guitar, a five course dinner for 10 in the private wine cellar at Binions, a Dallas sports fan weekend for two to see the Dallas Cowboys play The Greenbay Packers and a 2.75 carat diamond bangle bracelet. Sponsors included Nike, The Commercial Appeal, FedEx, Comcast, Enterprise and Kroger.


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