Characters raise $49K [with gallery]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ansley Cobb, 4, poses with the characters from Aladdin - John Reid McGlamory, Frank Shaffer, and Jennifer Botta.

Ansley Cobb, 4, poses with the characters from Aladdin – John Reid McGlamory, Frank Shaffer, and Jennifer Botta.

Meredith’s Miracles shattered all of its previous records Saturday, raising more than $49,000 for the charity with its annual Cookies with Characters event.

Event organizer Kiley Spears said a total of 1,968 people walked through the doors of the Kiwanis Community Center on Saturday. Add to that the approximately 300 volunteers who made the show work, and it was one happening place.

“We had a record-breaking number of people,” Spears said. “We were ecstatic.”

Volunteers put on two shows – a silly show, and a glow show. The facility was open for three hours for each show, and those attending could pose for photographs with, and get autographs from, their favorite characters.

“This is the thing that carries us through the year for the children,” Spears said of the organization’s biggest fundraiser.

Meredith’s Miracles helps families within a 100-mile radius of Andalusia with non-medical expenses when they have to leave the area to receive sub-specialty care. In the past 10 years, it has provided $367,070 to 984 families in need.

The crowd was so big that volunteer ran out of cookies for a short while during the first show.

Spear said the support of the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation as title sponsors made a significant difference in the success of this year’s event.

“We try to keep the gate price low, so that it’s accessible to everybody, and add other things inside to raise more money.”

Tickets were only $5, but there were jumpy houses, toys, refreshments, and professional photos available inside.

Spears couldn’t say enough about the volunteers.

“We had 66 characters, and almost every one of those had two volunteers helping them,” she said. “We had 25 sorority sisters who came from Troy with Anna Bay McCord, and tons of people giving away cookies and selling toys.

“We have so many high school kids involved in this project,” Spears said. “And those kids work so hard. They are amazing.”

Sarah Atkinson and Carson Posey served as junior directors.

“They’ve been with me since sixth grade,” Spears said. “They take care of so many details that I never think about, and I’m so sad that they are seniors.”

Rosemary Bass and Audrey Danford came on board as new junior directors this year, shadowing Carson and Sarah.

“Everybody’s job helps the day function,” Spears said. “From inventorying toys, to selling Cokes. Everybody has their job.”

Sonia Crigger auditions and selects characters; and this year, John Reid McGlamory, brother of Meredith McGlamory, in whose name the charity was founded, wrote the script this year.

“It was brilliant,” Spears said. “He was little when we started this nine years ago,’ Spears said. “He was just a little kid running around. Now he’s in college. It’s crazy how young kids can pull this off.”

Next year’s event has already been set for Sat., Feb. 27, 2016.