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Rialzo IV: Joy to the World

Mar 16

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Saturday, March 16, 2013  RssIcon

More than 800 people turned out for Rialzo IV.

Hollywood's red carpet had nothing on Saturday night’s Rialzo IV Charity Gala.

Those entering Muncie's Horizon Convention Center walked down a black and white, “red carpet”-style entrance, many in formal evening attire.

Along with the glitz and glamour worthy of a Hollywood opening, there was lots of gold here -- hearts of gold, with true affection and appreciation for Meridian Health Services and how it is changing lives daily.

Walking in the door with the guests were heartfelt true stories about what it is like to work with Meridian Health Services, the difference it has made in so many lives and how it continually adapts to changing community needs.

New this year is CURRENT, Meridian Health Services' magazine featuring programs, faces and stories about the group's mission.

Near the entrance to greet many of the night’s 800 guests was Hank Milius, president and CEO of Meridian Health Services.

“When you see 100 volunteers working on something like this, you feel truly blessed to live in such a community,” he smiled.

Rialzo IV was an outstanding success that included a record crowd and likely a record level of financial support, said Hank Milius.

More than 800 people turned out for Saturday night's fundraiser with Three Dog Night, a silent auction and even a trio of dogs who raised more than $3,000 in the live auction.

Milius said Rialzo IV continued the growth seen in previous years.

"It just builds and builds," Milius said. "People attend one time and then bring a friend the next year."

Muncie's Horizon Convention Center is almost out of room, he said.

"We're starting to think about expanding this in some way. We want everybody to be a part of it as much as we can. But it's going to be very difficult because there's only so much square footage here."

The Meridian CEO called it "an incredible week."

"I'm just humbled by the response from the community in supporting Meridian Health like this" he said.

"The people who have come out to volunteer - the arts community, the professional caliber that we have in this community is just incredible.

"It's just a great, great arts community and they've been very generous to Meridian."

Three Dog Night entertains the crowd during Rialzo..

Joy to the World

On a night when Three Dog Night sang about “Joy to the World” Scott Smalstig summed up Meridian Health Services in three words: “Cope, scope and hope.”

As vice president of fund development, Smalstig said he was grateful to be part of an organization that is so important to the community.

Smalstig told the crowd of more than 800 that they were important parts of the ‘whole’ health approach used here. People are able to cope with Meridian’s help, he said, thanks to mental health and addiction services. Meridian’s scope – spanning all age groups, makes it possible for joy to return many little corners of the world.

And as for Saturday’s event, he said, “This community deserves a celebration.”

Mayor remembers

Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler was more than complimentary of Meridian Health Services during the 4th annual Rialzo event. He was grateful. He spoke of a close family member that benefitted greatly from their services.

“I honestly don’t know where he’d be today if it hadn’t been for Meridian Health Services,” Tyler said.

The former state representative said Meridian Health Services made his current job as mayor easier.

“It’s comforting to know there’s someone like Meridian Health Services there to help Muncie residents just like they helped my family.

Dogs take center stage

Indy race car rides along with items from Jim Davis and David Letterman almost had to take a back seat at Rialzo when someone let the dogs out.

Three loveable and unique pups filled the Horizon Center with oohs and ahhs – and raised a combined total of more than $3,000 in the process.

Stories told by the winning bidders were almost as cuddly as the puppies themselves.

Mike and Sue Tschour took home a black Labrador mix and planned to give it to Mandi, their 26-year-old daughter. The Tschours recently lost their dog, a member of the family for many years.

Meanwhile three young children will be awakened in a unique way Sunday morning. Damion and Kerri Harris planned to turn their “teddy bear” pup loose in their kids’ rooms as a surprise.

“Our kids have wanted a dog for awhile,” said Damion, an orthopedic surgeon at Henry County Memorial Hospital in New Castle. “We thought it was about time.”

And, somewhat poetically, the final dog auctioned Saturday was purchased by Terri Milius, wife of Meridian Health Services CEO Hank Milius.

“Somebody help me,” Hank said with a laugh as a crowd gathered around Terry and the adorably large Labrodoodle.

Terry, a teacher at Yorktown Elementary School, is retiring at the end of the year, so the timing was perfect.

“I just love the breed,” Terry said. “He was so calm.”

“What can I say?” Hank added. “It’s for a great cause.”

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