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Kicking up their boots, raising funds at Cattle Baron’s Ball

By Tim Weideman

Combine equal parts dancing, drinks and food with friends and a scenic view, then stir in fundraising for a worthy cause. That was the Cattle Baron’s Ball on Saturday night.

Now in its fifth year, the event attracted more than 400 cowboys and cowgirls to the corner of North 52nd Street and Kitten Creek Road to support the American Cancer Society and the Hope Lodge in Kansas City, Mo.

Cattle Baron’s Ball committee members expected this year’s event to bring in more than $100,000, much of which comes from the proceeds of a live auction, a silent auction and a bid board.

“People are generous,” said Tina Long, the committee’s publicity chair. “They’re here to support a good cause.”

Committee event chair Tonya Bradley said that though cancer is a heavy topic, the ball takes on a lighter atmosphere each year.

“It’s very celebrative,” she said. “It’s very hopeful.”

Money raised at the ball helps fund research for cancer cures, services for those fighting the disease and prevention and early detection programs.

Local restaurants provided food for this year’s event. Travis Marvin provided his country music tunes to keep guests dancing.

“It’s always festive,” Bradley said about the ball.

Some of the more than $30,000 worth of auction items this year included a week stay in Big Sky Montana, dinner with Kansas State men’s basketball head coach Bruce Weber and his wife Megan, a Texas wild hog hunt and diamond jewelry.

Most of the money raised will go to the American Cancer Society, but, for the second year in a row, the ball is also donating some of the funds to the Hope Lodge.

The lodge is a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers who have to travel outside their home area for their best opportunity to receive effective treatment.

“It takes off a lot of stress for people having to go through that,” Long said.

Bradley said the lodge’s atmosphere is very uplifting.

“It was the brightest, sun-shiniest place ever,” she said, adding that when she visited, she noticed the word “hope” was visible everywhere.

Committee members spent this past week preparing the pasture for the ball. Tents began popping up in the field on Monday, with the last of them erected on Tuesday.

On Saturday, decorations were put in place, furniture was brought in and auction items were placed on display.

The event has been held in pastures of area ranches the last four years.

Each year, an area ranch owner donates available space.

“We just ask them to mow and get the cows off the land,” Bradley said Saturday morning as the site was being set up.

Jay and Vonda Copeland were this year’s ranch hosts.

This is the second consecutive year that a Riley County ranch has been the site of the ball. In the two years prior, the ball took place at Geary County locations. The first event was held at the Kansas State University Alumni Center.

Bradley said holding the event outdoors can’t be beat.

“The atmosphere is fun,” she said. “We’re dancing under the stars.”

Now that this year’s ball is over, the committee is moving on to next year.

“When we tear down, we start making notes for what we have to do next year,” Bradley said.

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