Friends of the Smokies gathered for the 15th annual Evergreen Ball at Cherokee Country Club on Saturday, January 27th to celebrate Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) in grand style. This year’s black-tie gala has raised more than $700,000 for the park’s annual needs.
The fundraiser featured a silent auction, wine auction, and live auction with more than 500 items, including one-of-a-kind experiences and vacation packages to HGTV’s Dream Home in Gig Harbor, Washington and the Grand Canyon. The evening’s program was emceed by WBIR anchors Abby Ham and John Becker, and included welcome messages by board chairman Rev. Dr. Dan Matthews and GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash. The evening also featured live music from The Music City Toppers.
Money raised from the event will also help to support education, conservation, historic preservation and wildlife protection programs in GSMNP. This special event also kicked off celebrations of Friends of the Smokies’ 25th anniversary. The organization has raised more than $60 million in support of GSMNP since it was founded in 1993.
“We are so thankful to the many people who have helped support the Friends of the Smokes over the last 25 years with gifts of donations, time, and service,” added GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We know we can count on their generous support to protect this park for generations to come.”
A portion of the proceeds raised at the 2018 Evergreen Ball will go towards Friends of the Smokies’ 25th anniversary signature project – a campaign to replace the Park’s emergency radio system. The fundraising goal of $1.25 million will be matched by federal funding and grants for a total of $2.5 million needed to replace the aging communication system.
“We are humbled again by the tremendous support we receive from our friends in East Tennessee and beyond,” added Friends of the Smokies president Jim Hart. “Many of the important projects being done in the Smokies would not be possible without this overwhelming generosity, so we give heartfelt thanks to our guests and sponsors.”
The 2018 Evergreen Ball was presented by Scripps Networks Interactive and the Travel Channel and was sponsored by Boyd’s Jig & Reel, The Charlie and Moll Anderson Family Foundation, Citizens National Bank, Clayton Homes, Haslam Family Foundation, Jim and Natalie Haslam, Home Federal Bank, Pilot Travel Centers, SmartBank, Toyota of Knoxville, Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., Pete & Cindi DeBusk, Dollywood, LeConte Lodge, Martin & Company, Nisus Corporation, Paine Bickers LLP, Regal Entertainment Group, with special underwriting from Connor Concepts, Shafer Insurance, Pugh CPAs, All Occasions Party Rentals, Stowers Machinery Corporation, EST8TE, Ullrich Printing, Mortgage Investors Group, The Trust Company, Beverage Control, Inc., Harper Auto Square, and Sugarland Cellars