Community Stories

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TEXAS HOLD ‘EM POKER CHALLENGE

Who do you suppose came out on top of the poker tournament that Santa Rosa police officers hosted at the Bennett Valley Golf Course’s Legends Sports Bar & Grill?

Hands down, the winners were the Special Olympics athletes eager for their chance to get outdoors and play.

Elk Grove Police Officer Dan Templeton, left, Brian Marvin of the SRJC Police Academy and Healdsburg contractor Dennis Thompson play a hand at the Inaugural Texas Hold 'Em Poker Challenge, which took place Sunday, April 6, at the Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Santa Rosa. (Charlie Gesell, for the Press Democrat)

Elk Grove Police Officer Dan Templeton, left, Brian Marvin of the SRJC Police Academy and Healdsburg contractor Dennis Thompson play a hand at the Inaugural Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Challenge, which took place Sunday, April 6, at the Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Santa Rosa. (Charlie Gesell, for the Press Democrat)

The inaugural Texas Hold ’em Poker Challenge April 6 raised more than $7,000 for Special Olympics Northern California.

Participants arrived at Legends to find poker tables set up and professional dealers with Blue Dog Events ready for action.

Each player’s $50 buy-in brought him or her $1,000 in chips. Other attractions included several tables covered by enticing silent auction items, a bar and free food donated by Johnny Garlic’s. Representatives of Special Olympics Northern California expressed the organization’s gratitude and mission. And a competitor told the poker players how she loves to compete in a number of athletic events.

Though this was the first local Texas Hold ’em Poker Challenge, the Santa Rosa Police Department is one of the Sonoma County law enforcement agencies long active in raising money to support Special Olympics, the joyous sports events tailored to people with intellectual disabilities.

Organizer Alan Rosenthal, a Santa Rosa officer, said he and his colleagues agreed the poker fundraiser was so much fun and so successful that they will seek to host it again.

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FOOLS’ NIGHT OUT

Recent recipients of the Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award attend Fools' Night Out, honoring community volunteers by the Rotary Club of Healdsburg Sunrise at Shone Farm in Forestville on April 1, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Recent recipients of the Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award attend Fools’ Night Out, honoring community volunteers by the Rotary Club of Healdsburg Sunrise at Shone Farm in Forestville on April 1, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

A black-tie Wine Country gala on a soggy Tuesday night? No evening other than April 1 would have worked for Fools’ Night Out, a celebration of volunteerism and of the birth — on April Fools Day 2009 — of Healdsburg’s morning Rotary Club.

The elegant dinner party at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm kicked off with a champagne reception and entertainment by young performers with the Windsor Bloco dance/music troupe.

The meal was an extraordinary creation of acclaimed chef Doug Keane, who lives in Healdsburg, and SRJC culinary students.

The program by the hosting, 5-yearold Healdsburg Rotary Club Sunrise honored the community service of its members, and also the contributions all recipients of the city of Healdsburg’s Marie Sparks Memorial Volunteer Award.

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A Rotarian of the Year award was presented to Will Seppi, general manager of Costeaux French Bakery and a tireless booster of community efforts throughout Sonoma County.

After dinner, comic Will Durst, the evening’s Master of the Court, hit the stage and cracked everybody up.

Proceeds of Fools’ Night Out will benefit the charitable work of Healdsburg’s morning Rotary club — chiefly, its scholarships for youth.

Club President Larry Orr said the celebration also advanced the group’s core objectives: “doing good and having fun.”

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23rd ANNUAL LIP JAM

 Performers from Phi Sigma Sigma during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Performers from Phi Sigma Sigma during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Cameron Chapatte in crocodile costume, with Gianna Bagnani, both of Gamma Phi Beta, preparing their costumes in the parking lot before the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Members of the judging panel (from left) Michael Lesch, Eric Williams, Ernesto Olivares, Angie Henry and Greta Vollmer during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Gamma Phi Beta seniors Elizabeth Alvarez, applying makeup to Erica Pieschke (left), near Paige McReynolds in Captain Hook costume during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Sonoma State freshman (from left) Zoe Roberts, Alexis Maciel and Jaque Durazo greeting guests with giant Alpha Gamma Delta letters before the start of the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Sonoma State freshman Allie Methemy, holding a sign to help remind visitors that diabetes awareness is the cause benefiting from the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition, held Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Zac Hersh, left, and Kelsey Ertola hosting the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Performers from Alpha Gamma Delta during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat) Performers from Alpha Epsilon Pi during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat)


Performers from Alpha Epsilon Pi during the 23rd Annual Lip Jam dancing competition Friday, March 28 at the Green Music Center. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat)

When Sonoma State University students say they wait all year for the music-and-dance competition that rocked Weill Hall on Friday night, they’re not just mouthing the words.

This was Lip Jam, a lip-sync contest that invites members of SSU’s sororities and fraternities to have a blast while choreographing and creating costumes for performances a la MTV.

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It’s now 23 years that the women of Alpha Gamma Delta have hosted Lip Jam to unite the campus Greek community, delight an audience and raise some serious money for the fight against a woeful disease.

Proceeds from each year’s Lip Jam go to the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation for Diabetes Research and Education.

The theme of Friday night’s show at the Green Music Center was “Alpha Gam Presents: SSU’s Best Dance Crew,” a play on TV’s hit “America’s Best Dance Crew.”

Emcees Kelsey Ertola and Zac Hersh, both members of Greek organizations at SSU, welcomed the crowd and introduced 14 acts from 13 sororities and fraternities.

The performances weren’t just thrown together. In recent weeks, some teams burned the midnight oil rehearsing and tightening their routines.

Friday night, the lights went down, the tunes cranked up and a cast of SSU students had about as much fun possible when dancing for all you’re worth and pretending to sing.

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