BVRA takes annual fundraising gala virtual

LEWISBURG — A special virtual gala featuring a family variety show on Saturday will benefit the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority and its mission to keep amenities such as the community pool and gymnastics programs open and available for the community.

The BVRA has been hosting an annual in-person gala for six years, and according to Executive Director Shirley Nelson Brough, it is the organization's largest fundraiser each year.

This year, they decided to take COVID precautions and offer something new. The virtual family variety show, via Zoom, will highlight talented individuals and groups who are associated with BVRA’s programs. Acts will include gymnastics competitive team members, dance acts, martial arts junior blackbelt winners, and community members who are regulars at the St. Mary Street skateboard park who will present a demonstration on skateboards and BMX bikes. In addition, twin brothers who took part in the summer camp program will perform a duet, and other campers will perform on instruments they learned during camp. The night will also include acts from local musical talent, including a renowned pianist, a barbershop quartet, and local guitarist/singer.

Brough said when the board was discussing how to move forward this year with its annual event, they decided it was a great opportunity to involve “some of our own BVRA talent as an exhibit for our audience.” After all, she said, “That’s what they are there for, to support us.”

“We have a lot of great kids and adults with a lot of talent,” she said. “So we thought this was a chance to give a few people time to shine and share their talents to help support BVRA and its effort to come back from COVID shutdowns last year, and to help us to rally to kickstart our programs again.”

The night will also include park employees and BVRA board members sharing about the programs and mission of the organization.

The Zoom family variety show will be a hybrid of live and recorded presentations and is being produced with the help of MYNDDSET Virtual Event Services, of Danville, which is a platinum sponsor this year.

The show will be hosted by Mike Glazer, BVRA board member, who will share live via Zoom and will introduce the previously-recorded acts. Glazer, who has a background in radio announcing, hosted the in-person BVRA gala last year.

He jokes that after many months of hard work by everyone to put the event together, “I’m going to be the glue, (or) the scotch tape from one act to the other.”

Having seen all of the acts already through rehearsals for the show, Glazer said he believes that people will really enjoy the evening.

“It’s such a diverse view of the wonderful talent that’s in our area,” he said. “It’s going to be very enjoyable. You’ll be able to smile for an hour.”

And adding to that joy will be knowing you’re supporting a great cause.

“The BVRA like many organizations in our region is always needing funds,” Glazer said. “We really work on a shoestring. We offer a lot to the community. If it disappeared, people would notice.”

From the community pool, to gymnastics, to the St. Mary’s Street Park, Glazer calls the organization’s offerings “little jewels of our community.”

Last year, with COVID shutdowns and an unexpected pipe replacement project for the pool main water line, those jewels were threatened. In addition, because local government funding for the pool is minimal, the BVRA operates it each year with a loss of approximately $50,000. The Energy Gymnastics Program helps to support the park and the pool each year.

Brough said the virtual family variety show will kick off a 2021 capital campaign — the first major campaign since 2004/2005 when they entered into a renovation project for the park and pool.

She said all proceeds from any fundraising efforts will go to support both the pool and the gymnastics program.

“Normally, when gym operations are at 100 percent, funding would not be a topic of discussion,” Brough said. “We hope that the community appreciates the value that the BVRA programs, Energy Gymnastics, and the community pool brings to families, including year-round indoor gymnastics and fitness training, fun outdoor recreation, much-needed water safety courses, and part-time summer work for high school and college students from the community.”

Tickets are still available for the virtual family variety show. They are $25 per person and can be secured by visiting www.bvrec.org, calling the office at 570-524-4774, or emailing officecoordinator@bvrec.org.

The show will begin at 7 p.m. Ticket holders can log in 15-20 minutes early for pre-show information.

Those who purchased tickets for the show will be eligible for random drawings for two family pool passes.

In addition, an auction with a variety of donated items, from trips, to classes, to handcrafted pieces, will continue through Monday on the BVRA website. Donations can also be made online.

Take-out dinners for those who signed up earlier for both the dinner and the show were provided through partnerships with the Lewisburg Hotel and Bella’s Bliss Baker. UPMC is also a silver sponsor for the event this year.

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