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Military Masquerade Ball

Alpha Omega Veterans Services

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger | Photos by Don Perry 

Guests attending the third annual Military Masquerade Ball knew there was a fun evening ahead of them as they were greeted with flutes of champagne and performances by stilt walker Mickey Cameron and aerialists Abby Crenshaw, Aubrey DePew and Emily Dison. The spirited fundraiser, held at Memphis Botanic Garden, was designed to raise money to help veterans and spread awareness about Alpha Omega Veterans Services (AOVS). 

Alpha Omega Veterans Services was one of the first private, nonprofit charitable corporations in the United States to serve homeless and displaced military veterans. Since the Memphis office opened its doors in January 1987, the organization has served nearly 11,000 veterans in the local community, of which over 90 percent have totally reintegrated back into society with secure housing and income.

In keeping with a Mardi Gras theme, guests were encouraged to wear masks with their party attire. Colorful strands of beads and fanciful masks decorated the dining tables in Hardin Hall. Chef Kelly English of Cafe Iris, showed off his Creole cuisine with traditional dishes of red beans and rice, chicken andouille jambalaya, crawfish pies, hammock hushpuppies and bread pudding. Chef English also offered deviled eggs, braised chicken thighs and roast beef po’ boys with mushroom debris.  

For guest Sarah Kilbert, Operations Director of Shelby County Veterans Court, she said that the food, coupled with the opportunity to support AOVS, was a big highlight of the evening for her.

The Mighty Souls Brass Band kept things lively and led a second line procession though the venue’s hallways. Party-goers had the opportunity to add to the evening’s coffers by bidding on silent auction items such as a pair of Vera Bradley totes, a basketball autographed by Penny Hardaway, a wine collection from Athens Distributors, autographed photos from Grizzlies players Tony Allen and Mike Miller, a round of golf and lunch for four at Ridgeway Country Club, and a Tailgater’s Delight package that featured a grill coupled with seasonings and sauces from Germantown Commissary, The Rendezvous, and Huey’s.

Cordell Walker, executive director of AOVS, said, “We thank everyone who supported our gala. AOVS is a nonprofit organization that helps homeless and disabled military veterans reintegrate into society by providing them with housing and other essential supportive services. Proceeds from this gala will be used to continue our mission of serving our military veterans.” 

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