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Fabulous Fifties gala to benefit the ALA's clean air programs

By Courtney Llewellyn Reminder Assistant Editor SPRINGFIELD Fellas and gals, it's that time again the American Lung Association (ALA) is hosting its annual Fabulous Fifties Ball on May 7. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fundraising gala, which benefits lung research and local ALA programs such as Healthy Choices, Healthy Lungs, which is presented in schools, and the Better Breathers support group. Attendees are invited to enjoy an evening of food and entertainment. Black tie apparel is optional; 1950s attire is encouraged. And, in addition to the fun planned for guests, local organizations that promote the ALA's mission of providing healthy air for all will be honored. Bianca Walker, Manager of Development, of the ALA branch in Springfield, noted honorees this year include Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Lenox American Saw and Friendly's, recipients of the Breath of Life Award, which recognizes business that have gone smoke-free and promote clean air; the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and UMass Amherst, recipients of the Healthy Air Award, given to schools and businesses that have "gone above and beyond promoting indoor and outdoor clean air"; Hampden County Physicians, winners of the Emily Bissell Award for their long-time commitment to the ALA; and Gerald Green, MD, winner of the Massachusetts Thoracic Society Award. "People really come to the event to support the honorees," Anne-Marie Villamaino, chair of the Event Planning Committee, said. Villamaino, a business development representative with Baystate Home Infusion Respiratory Service, said that the '50s theme is a large reason supporters come to the ball as well. "There's a lot of dancing, and Gary Guitar and the Grinders are performing again," she said. Included in the evening will be a cocktail hour, a variety of food stations for dinner, a silent auction and even a special guest appearance by "Elvis Presley." "Everything that's being offered really makes it an evening, not just a fundraiser," Villamaino said. "We've seen so much support from the community and I think the '50s theme has a lot to do with it," Walker added. She and the Event Planning Committee will be going to the gala wearing matching Pink Ladies jackets. Tickets to the event will be available until May 5 for $150 or $100. To purchase tickets, visit www.lungne.org or contact Walker at 505-5064. "There are so many things the ALA does that reaches out to the community," Villamaino said. "This is a good cause to support because it helps us protect our lungs. It's not just about smoking, it's about asthma too and here in the northeast we have some of the highest rates of asthma in the country. It's about helping people and teaching people." The Fabulous Fifties Gala is taking place May 7 from 7 to 11:30 p.m. at the Springfield Marriott.

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