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Spree Insider: April 2011

Botanical Gardens staffers James Tilley, executive director, and Erin Grajek, director of marketing, with board member Gordon Ballard, Ad Stuff Promotional Products.

Another month, another round of diverse Spree-sponsored events, including two at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and a very special fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Paradise Under Glass, April 8; Spring Flower Show, April 9–May 1
Have you lost your patience with Buffalo’s winter weather? Are you awaiting the final winter snowfall? The days of snowplowing your driveway and brushing snow off of your car are soon coming to an end and it’s time to celebrate. Spring has sprung at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens with two colorful Spree-sponsored events: Paradise Under Glass and the annual Spring Flower Show.
Step into the heated sanctuary as Paradise Under Glass presents you with a night away from the winter cold with tropical drinks, chilled brewed beverages, cooking tips from local restaurants such as Lucarelli’s, Ilio DiPaolo’s, and Tandoori’s, a glass sculpting presentation by Corning Glass, and lastly, a sneak preview of the annual Spring Flower Show. Make sure you bring your Hawaiian attire to fully set the mood. The tropical celebration will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Can’t attend the celebration? Don’t be concerned, because the flower show will offer more than ample time to experience the colors and fragrances of cherry blossoms, orchids, sweet peas, hyacinths, tulips, and their flowers and shrubs. This annual event is Buffalo’s largest and longest-lasting flower show.
“The show has been going on for decades,” says Erin Grajek, director of marketing for the Botanical Gardens. It has become a traditional spring-is-here favorite. “We like to get everyone out of the cold and bring some warmth to Buffalo.”
The garden show is far from an adults-only event. In addition to an Easter egg hunt the day before Easter, the many animals of Farmer Brown’s Petting Zoo and the Easter Bunny will make appearances to entertain children of all ages. The Easter Bunny’s helper will also choose winners of the “Dress Your Easter Best” contest for the best bonnet and tie, so start searching because winners will receive a prize.
The Botanical Garden’s Spring Flower Show will run from Saturday, April 9, to Sunday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for both can be purchased on the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden’s website, www.buffalogardens.com, or call 827-1584 for further information.
—K. B.

Make a Wish Foundation Gala, April 2
On April 2, the Make-a-Wish Foundation is asking you to dust off your cape and tights, and spend the night being a superhero during their annual gala. This year’s gala, sponsored in part by Spree, has a “Night of Heroes” theme, which aims to put a fun spin on the black tie event by asking guests to dress as their favorite hero, whether the chosen do-gooder is from cartoons, movies, comic strips, or everyday life.
Marcy Wiggle, gala co-chair, says the gala committee decided to switch the theme from “Hollywood” to “Heroes” to give the event a fresh focus and to give gala-goers a sense of what the children experience.
“We selected it because we see the kids as heroes, so we want to let people have the feeling that the kids feel,” Wiggle says. “You can come and be a hero here, and be a hero to a kid by donating … and feel like a hero in the eyes of a child.”
Wiggle, along with her cochair partner Lauren Gfroerer, began meeting in August to plan the event. At this year’s gala, Make-a-Wish is honoring a few individuals, as well as a hometown sports team. The Buffalo Bills will get recognized with the foundation’s “Lifetime Achievement” Shooting Star Award. Wiggle says the Bills, and especially place kicker Rian Lindell and wife, Johna, have been a tremendous help to the foundation.
“The Buffalo Bills, and specifically Johna and Rian, have done so much for Make-a-Wish. They raise a lot of money,” Wiggle says. “Especially if it comes to a football wish. They have been very generous.”
Wiggle says Johna has been a past co-chair of the gala, and has served on the committee for the past three years. She has not only raised money for Make a Wish, but has given both monetary and gift donations to the foundation as well.
The gala will also recognize senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting, Marc Honan, and vice president of community relations, Gretchen Geitter, and it will feature a silent and live auction in addition to an open bar and dinner. Wiggle says past auctions have included trips, electronics, and sports memorabilia. “We get a lot of jewelry, trips, spa items,” she notes. “Anything from $200 and up.”
Tickets can be purchased individually for $175. Also available are table sponsorships for $3,000 for a group of ten.
“All proceeds from the entire night—from the auction to the ticket sales—go to our local Make-a-Wish Chapter,” Wiggle says. Last year, Wiggle says the organization was able to grant forty wishes from the gala’s proceeds. The common wish, Wiggle says, usually costs about $8,000.
“Our goal is to grant at least forty more this year. We grant a local wish about every two and a half days. More than 150 kids are currently waiting in the WNY area—kids with life-threatening medical conditions. It’s not a last wish for dying children. It’s not a wish for necessarily terminally ill children.” Wiggle adds that about eighty-percent of the children live into adulthood.
But after the capes come off and the superheroes head home for slumber, the gala ultimately comes down to one thing: “It’s really all about the kids—granting wishes to sick kids,” Wiggle says. “It’s a great night, and a great event. The money stays local—it goes right to the children. And it’s very fun.”
For tickets, call 810-9474, and for more information, visit wny.wish.org.
—K. L.

Also in April ...
Last month, the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University featured Spree contributor, artist, educator, and collector Gerald Mead, whose impressive collection is featured in Public/Private: Pairings with the Gerald Mead Collection. This month, Spree is happy to help honor him with The MEAD Party: An Art-Infused Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 29, at the Castellani. The unique fundraiser will feature work from local artists, a silent auction, and gourmet food. For info, call 286-8286 or write to mjbeam@niagara.edu.
And don’t forget, Spree is a sponsor of season three of Nickel City Chef. The culinary competition’s season ends on Sunday, April 10, as Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz of Sample takes on challenger Louis Zanghi of The Delaware. Judges are Bistro Europa owner Steven Gedra, food writer Regina Schrambling, and musician Nelson Starr. Proceedings run from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Artisan Kitchens & Bath, 200 Amherst Street. For info, visit nickelcitychef.com.


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