SPRING HILL — Drawing on pop culture proved a winner last year for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Hernando County, so the organization is embracing another leisure hit this year for its major annual fundraiser, staging Lip Sync Stigma-Stopper Showdown on Sept. 10 at the Palace Grand.
NAMI's 2015 rendition of Dancing with the Stars raised more than $100,000. The lip sync event will seek to raise $259,000, said executive director Tina Kinney.
"It's to not only raise funds, but awareness of the stigma that surrounds mental health," Kinney said, "letting people know it's not the person. It's the illness they have and it's treatable, the same as any other illness. There are treatments out there, and they can live a perfectly healthy life."
Proceeds from the sale of $75 tickets and sponsorships of $100 to $10,000 will go toward building NAMI's version of the Vincent Life Skills Center, a facility where mentally ill people will undertake a recovery-through-work program, patterned after a center by the same name in Pinellas Park.
Ground is expected to be broken this fall for the 11,000-square-foot facility on a 7.7-acre site adjacent to the Hernando County Health Department on Forest Oaks Boulevard.
"We're hoping for a fall 2017 opening," Kinney said, adding that 250 clients per year are expected to work through the program.
The state budget includes $250,000 for the $1 million project, to be augmented by last year's fundraising effort and the upcoming gala.
The lounge-like event with appetizers will stage "local celebrities," Kinney said, lip synching their own musical selections. "They are strong advocates of mental health and great supporters of NAMI," she said.
Among the participants: county Commissioner Diane Rowden, assistant county fire chief Kevin Carroll, superintendent of schools Lori Romano, County Administrator Len Sossamon and county public information manager Virginia Singer.
Also, Pat Crowley, president/CEO of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce; Valerie Piaccio, Bayfront Health director of communications; Tina Ryman, Marker 48 owner; state Sen. Wilton Simpson, state Rep. Kathleen Peters and Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger.
During the evening, NAMI will promote its Square Foot Campaign, in which businesses and individuals can sponsor a square foot of the new building for $200, their names to be included in a permanent display.
A raffle will be conducted for a package valued at $1,000, including a Yeti cooler and supplies plus a $250 gift card for Bass Pro Shops. Raffle tickets are $10.
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]