The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 19, 2013

Kick-off event for Beckley ARH fundraising effort successful

BECKLEY — Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital’s weekend production of Karen Vuranch’s “A Wedding to Die For” boded well for the non-profit’s $1 million capital campaign, “A Miner’s Legacy; Our community’s healthy future,” raising $11,000 after expenses.

The Friday night kick-off event held at Tamarack Conference Center saw 200 attendees, a sell-out at $100 per ticket, as the audience died laughing at local celebrities presenting a comedic evening of mock murder and mayhem.

For many, it was their first try at improvisation. Margaret O’Neal, executive director of United Way of Southern West Virginia, was a veteran, having participated in one other murder mystery years ago. She sensed nervousness among the cast members, but also a prevailing sense of stewardship.

“It was great. We only practiced twice, then dress rehearsal. Ad-libbing, we got as close to the script as we could. People seemed to understand the plot and identified the murderer fairly quickly.”

Who was that poisonous premeditator?

“That would be me,” admits O’Neal.

According to Ted Weigel, West Virginia Marketing and Service Excellence Manager for Beckley ARH, all actors and actresses approached raising money for the hospital with enthusiasm.

“It was very comical. The people we chose to be the actors embraced their roles and really got into it,” he noted.

Performances in addition to O’Neal’s included Angela Jones-Ball, Dr. Ayne Amjad, Lesley Martin, Dr. Jim Kyle, Brian Williams, Judge John Hutchison and Karen Vuranch;  the troupe earned a standing ovation at evening’s end.

“The $1 million being raised will add those little touches to improve our overall patient experience,” explains Weigel. “Our goal is to make the hospital look more like a hotel than an institution — no more four-bed wards or window air conditioning units.”

The total cost of hospital renovation project now stands at over $8 million.

Among the many improvements planned are a new façade and the addition of 19 private rooms with full baths, state-of-the-art medical equipment and flat-screen televisions.

“We’re very thankful to all the actors and volunteers who gave up their very valuable time. We are so pleased with the success of (the murder mystery event), we are hoping to make it an annual fundraiser for Beckley ARH,” said Weigel.

Upcoming events for the Beckley ARH Hospital capital campaign include an Aug. 19 golf tournament at The Greenbrier, among other fundraisers.  

For more information on the capital campaign, improvements and events, visit www.ARH.org.

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com

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