The Ball Barons

A jet-set philanthropic tradition makes its inaugural appearance in Broward County Friday night. The Cattle Barons' Ball, one of several taking place across the United States, is one of the largest fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. Tickets range in price from $150 to $1000, but because the hard-core gala crowd will quickly snap up the $1000 Baron-level tickets, this is your opportunity to buy a $150 Cowboy-level or $250 Ranger-level ticket. That way, you not only get to rub shoulders with these nabobs of do-goodery, you get to do a fair bit of good yourself.

The festivities begin at 7 p.m. in a setting of "upscale Western d├ęcor," which is apparently not an oxymoron. The event also boasts gourmet food, entertainment by country-and-western singer Craig Morgan, and Mark Schumacher of WPLG-TV (Channel 10) as master of ceremonies. An auction features prizes including a Napa Valley wine excursion, one-of-a-kind artwork created by local children with cancer, and a host of weekend getaways to vacation spots around the country.

Organizers hope the Broward Cattle Barons' Ball will raise $200,000; the nationwide total for the events last year was more than $10 million. This year, part of that total will also come from a West Palm Beach Cattle Barons' Ball, scheduled for March 24. The ball began 28 years ago in Texas, of course.

All proceeds go to a variety of programs, including transportation for cancer patients to and from hospitals, research, doctoral education, guest rooms at Winn-Dixie Hope Lodges for families of patients, medical supplies, and education programs.

With all this good work being done, eating a gourmet meal and having a night out with the upper crust of South Florida almost doesn't seem like a guilty pleasure.


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