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Even as pandemic restrictions lift, Louisville gala remains virtual

Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 12:15 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As we finally move away from pandemic restrictions, area charities are hopeful for the future after many were forced to hold virtual fundraisers the past year. Despite the changes, one of the area’s biggest, the Red Tie Gala benefitting the Ronald McDonald House, will not be in person.

Organizers say the annual event is a lot of work, it is planned months in advance. At the time planning started there were no certainties for the summer, so this year’s event is staying virtual.

The Ronald McDonald House helps families with children in the hospital who travel here have a home away from home.

“We postponed it from February until June this year in hopes we could do it live and in-person,” Hal Hedley, the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana, said.

Unfortunately, like many charities, the June 10 event was forced to pivot to a virtual event.

Hedley added, “We never closed our door to the families we serve.”

Knowing what those families go through makes a huge difference in donations.

Red Tie Gala Director Dani Harper said, “For an in-person gala, it’s a lot about being in the room and that energy.”

Transporting those moments is a big task for gala directors like Harper.

“Making an impactful program,” she said is what’s important, “so when people watch this, they remember why they support Ronald McDonald House.”

To do that, folks like the Walden family and their now 12-year-old Tahlia tell their stories. Born at 24 weeks, chaplains were regular visitors for baby Tahlia.

Tahlia
Tahlia(Family photo)

“She had seizures from early on, " Angela Walden, Tahlia’s mother, said.

Her husband, and Tahlia’s father, Mike agreed, “Yeah, she was on a ventilator for 13 plus weeks at the highest setting and it was doom and gloom.”

Moving from Washington, the Waldens needed a Ronald McDonald House room at Norton Women’s and Children.

Angela remembered, “I didn’t want to leave her side at all. So, they allowed me to be able to stay there with her, round the clock for the entire four months.”

The parents received hot meals, comfort and hope to bring their little fighter home. Maybe, she gets it from dad. Yes, Mike Walden is also known as “Ca$h Flo,” a fixture with Ohio Valley Wrestling, and Tahlia is his biggest fan.

The family encourages anyone who can to donate to the Ronald McDonald House because of the impact it made on their lives.

Anyone can check out the fundraiser, from buying raffle tickets to bidding on everything from prized bourbons to vacations to a party for multiple guests at Thunder Over Louisville 2022.

The Red Tie Gala will be streamed on YouTube. You can get the link and donate now by clicking here.

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