Palooza pulls out more than $37k for 'at-risk' children

ROME CITY – Northeastern Indiana CASA held its annual event to raise funds for the mission. CASA Palooza, held April 26th at Sylvan Cellars Event Center in Rome City, generated more than $37,000, and much of the credit goes to a variety of CASA supporters.

“I want to thank all of our donors, sponsors, advocates and staff,” said Executive Director Kirby Cool. “This evening is a chance to stand with us and help us be the voice children need.”

Caterers, restaurants, and other eateries came together to provide tasting stations that varied from lobster bisque to prime rib to tiramisu. As crowds tasted and sipped their way through the night, silent auction items were on display to tempt the purse strings. 

Northeastern Indiana CASA provides court-appointed advocates for children involved in judicial proceedings. Community members from DeKalb, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley counties volunteer their time to be an advocate, working with children to be a voice for them and their best interests in the courtroom. 

"This evening benefits abused, neglected and at-risk children in Northeast Indiana,” Cool said. “Our CASA advocates are simple incredible. The time, passion, and hard work they put in to be the voice for the most vulnerable children truly is remarkable.”

The evening marked a first in event participation for some and the last for others. Romer’s Restaurant & Spirits, from Lagrange, previously participated in CASA Palooza as a drink vendor. However, this was the first year Romer’s brought food for tasting.

“We’ve had a blast here in the past and we thought this was the year to bring some of our food,” said Romer’s manager Lanny Romer. “This is a great event and a really great cause. It’s a way for us to give back and meet some new people in the process.”

Another first for the evening was for Cool, who welcomed Palooza attendees for the first time in her role as executive director.

“There is a lot of work that goes into this event, and I am grateful for everyone who came alongside to make it happen,” said Cool.

LeAnn Perry had her last CASA Palooza experience as Assistant Director. She retired from her position with the nonprofit, but said she wasn’t going “too far.”

“I will still be around,” Perry said. “This is just too close to my heart to be gone away from it forever. I have a lot of passion for the kids and the mission here.”

Other Palooza food favorites were provided by Auntie V’s Restaurant & Catering, Cook’s Bison Ranch, The Woods Too and Lighthouse Lounge, Bo Doogie’s BBQ, Adams Lake Pub, Biggby Coffee, Five Star Distributing, Vino Indiana, Iannarelli’s Italian Restaurant, St. James Family Restaurant, Shigs in Pit Restaurant & Catering, Mad Anthony Brewing Company and Sweet Tooth Chocolates.

Funds raised from the annual event will be used to provide training for volunteers and staff as well as supply the day-to-day operations with funding necessary to carry out its mission. Although the event is over, donations are always accepted, and volunteers are welcome.

Photos from the event can be found at www.neincasa.net. Visit the website to learn more about volunteer opportunities and to complete an online application.