By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
The annual Holiday Fest supporting the Killeen-Fort Hood-Harker Heights Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society was originally scheduled to be in the Harker Heights E Center, but ended up sharing space with a new event by Sportz Dreamz of Dallas benefitting the Salvation Army's Angel Tree and the Skil Skoolz Childrenz Foundation.
Both events still had plenty of space in the Brittany Williams' Jackpot Saloon at the opposite end of Harker Heights Plaza from the E Center. An "indoor tailgate barbecue" by Sportz Dreamz in the Jackpot was followed by a New Orleans Saints watch party in Ernie Safady's Ernie's Sports Bar next door.
The Sportz Dreamz event began a monthly series of fundraisers for a wide range of charitable causes. Several carloads of retired Dallas Cowboys whisked in with a siren-heralded police escort to spend the evening signing autographs. The event featured live music inside and bounce houses and a rock-climbing tower supplied by Boulders Sports Climbing Center in the parking lot.
"We're retired and looking for things to do, so we might as well work for worthy causes," said Chris Randolph, co-founder of Sports Dreams with Kevin Smith.
The Holiday Fest included four tables. A table headed by Relay for Life special events chair Kimberly Dewees, a cancer survivor and director of Advancement Via Individual Determination at Rancier Middle School, sold Christmas ornaments and hot chocolate.
Other tables featuring gift items were operated by Sisters of the Earth and Sea, which footed half of the Relay for Life's rent for the space, and Billy Johnson Dental Clinic, manned by Zenny Campisi, a Relay for Life team captain who said her team raised $3,000 in the last relay and is going for $5,000 in the next one. Dewees said the goal for each team is $1,500.
Ron Christianson of Hutto had a table offering stone carvings.
"We just wanted to get a head start," Campisi said.
Many teams are still in formation for the area's 2010 Relay for Life, scheduled for kickoff from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Plaza Hotel in Killeen. Team captain coordinator Misty Byrd is urging teams to register online and start raising funds. In a flyer, she asked all team members to bring anyone thinking of starting a team to the kickoff.
The relay will be April 30 and May 1 at Shoemaker High School stadium with a theme of "celebrating birthdays" to mark the birthdays cancer survivors have celebrated since their victory over the disease, Dewees said.
Jacques Means, one of Dewees's students who was helping with Saturday's efforts, said, "I just like all fundraising and like to be around it to help out. It gives me a good feeling."
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.