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'Open Your Heart' event to raise money for children's hospital

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Many different facets of the community will come together for the cause on March 11 for the annual "Open Your Heart" Children's Hospitals and Clinics fundraising event at the Prom Center in Oakdale.

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The event is sponsored by the Woodbury Guild of the Children's Hospital Association.

"It's not even just Woodbury people that are supporting us," said event co-chair Dixie Ewing. "It's a lot of other people who come together for such a wonderful event. I think that shows the importance of supporting the children who have issues of health."

This is the sixth year the CHA has held the fundraiser.

What's new this year?

The CHA will be bringing a few new elements to the fundraiser this year -- including the Woodbury Community Theatre and the St. Paul Winter Carnival royalty.

Members of the Woodbury Community Theatre will be on hand to perform a few selections from their upcoming performance of "Mame."

In addition to the St. Paul Winter Carnival Royal Family, the Vulcan Crewe will be on hand to share in the festivities and auction off a fire truck ride.

Some of the tried and true favorites will still remain also, including dinner, live and silent auctions, drawings and the fashion show -- with JoS. A. Bank, Cold Water Creek, GAP and White House Black Market.

The hospital's best friend

This year's fundraiser will also see new master of ceremonies take the stage, with one of her best friends.

Local cable television personality Donna Chicone will be emceeing the event with her therapy dog Jazz.

"I just happened to be flipping through the television and saw her on with Jazz," Ewing said. "We got special permission to have a dog at the Prom Center."

Chicone produces a show called "The Dog Show" on community television and runs her own therapy dog business "Heartfelt Communications."

Ewing said the children are the reason she continues to stay inspired to plan the fundraiser.

"Every year we say we're going to pass it on to someone else to plan, but then you get the results or you go and see children in the hospital -- that rejuvenates our energy," she said. "What energizes us is the stories that we hear that show that we are making a difference."

Last year, the CHA raised $5,000. Previously the guild had raised as much as $20,000.

"We understand the economy is struggling, but we just have to keep remembering that it is a fundraiser," Ewing said. "Sick children are there no matter what the economy -- so they need it even more."

Currently about half of the 240 seats are sold.

"If we get to 240 we will be excited financially, but we will be crowded -- we'll be thankful and we'll work with it," Ewing said. "Some people have called us to donate because they have donated in the past and they believe in it so much -- whatever we can give will help."

The Woodbury Children's Hospital Association's, Woodbury Guild, "Open Your Heart" fundraiser will take place Thursday, March 11 from 6-9 p.m. at the Prom Center located at 484 Inwood Ave. in Oakdale. The cost for the event is $40 per person, with $20 tax deductible. Reservations can be made online at www.cha-st.paul.org or by phone at 651-730-2458.

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