Out & About: Big Brothers Big Sisters launch circus-themed gala


When it comes to your first big in-person fundraiser after the pandemic intermission, you want to get big, especially if “big” is part of your organization’s name.

So this is what Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel region did by presenting a Great gala evening Friday at Antonelli Event Center in Irwin.

Members of the event committee even went to the marquee for inspiration.

“We chose a vintage circus theme,” said the chairman of the committee. Marie beth Atwood.

Pre-dinner entertainment featuring acrobats, pole performers, and other characters dressed in circus costumes provided by FitnessEnvi of Greensburg, including owner Aubrey Worek, Alyssa Siegel, Brittny Ravotti, Jackie Sobel, Angela Merlino and NS Valdesalice.

The emcee, dressed in a red tail and top hat, was from Penn Township Brad Broman, now a member of the National Touring Company “Hamilton”. At his side was “the bearded lady” Ron Rukenbrod.

Shirley McMarlin | Tribune-Review

Master of Ceremonies Brad Broman (left) and ‘Lady with the Beard’ Ron Rukenbrod at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Area Big Night Out Gala on Friday October 1, 2021 at the Antonelli Event Center in Irwin.

Rukenbrod said he was not an artist, but a friend of BBBSLR’s executive director Stephanie Babich Mihleder: “She said, ‘Can you play catfish?’, And I said yes.

At dinner time, the 200 guests were presented to the winners of the evening: Donna Bailey, partner of the year; Dave Schröder, Great school of the year; and Eric Davis, Great community of the year.

Guests also tried their luck by bidding on auction items such as tickets to see Broman in “Hamilton” at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins and a getaway to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

Members of the event committee included Gloria Brown, Robie Shoff, Rachel Sloan, Doug Estok, Josh Bogert, Julie King, Natalie Shoff and Alexa Mapstone.

Seen at the circus: Gabrielle Stewart, Tim Atwood, Kristen Robinson, Laura Veydt, Tina Davis, Jennifer Miller, Lauren Hill, David and Vicki Danielson, Marty and Joann Perz, Doug Chew, Mary Humberger, Bob and Chris Markley, Jim and Pat McRickard and Brian King.

Shirley McMarlin is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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