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Otter Ball raises $113,000 for Virginia Living Museum

June 2, 2017

The Virginia Living Museum (VLM) is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the 2017 Otter Ball Conservation Gala which was held May 19. The elegant affair was presented by TowneBank, and with approximately 200 guests in attendance, the museum raised an impressive $113,000. The amount will support the Virginia Living Museum’s mission to deliver engaging natural science and conservation education through quality exhibits, live animal demonstrations, classes, programs and special events throughout the year.

Alonzo Bell Jr., President of the Board of Trustees, presented the 2017 Golden Paw Award to Charles W. Wornom. This award represents the highest recognition the VLM can bestow upon a person or an organization. For more than four decades, Charles has supported the VLM mission and exemplifies the spirit of giving and community service. He is a leader in philanthropic giving and has helped the Museum through challenging times. The VLM is appreciative of his continuous dedication to sustain the Museum for future generations.

The top level of the Museum took on an enchanting atmosphere greeted by animal garbed performers. Guests were encouraged to wander and engage with the Museum’s animal keepers as they handled a variety of VLM creatures such as Chesapeake Chuck, the celebrity groundhog, an American alligator, a great horned owl, a kestrel, and seahorses. This black-tie event began with a cocktail hour and butler passed hors d’oeuvres in the lobby and changing exhibit gallery.  Live music was provided by In Layman Terms.

Following cocktail hour, Chef by Design’s Patrick Telfer, spoke on how he prepared the evening’s fare featuring sustainable seafood and locally sourced products. The night’s Conservation Theme continued with an explanation from VLM Aquarium Curator, Chris Crippen on the Museum’s Lined Seahorse Breeding Program. Also on hand were local youth who gave testimonials on how the Museum has inspired them to pursue careers in science and conservation.

As the dinner ended, Kyle Hause, Auctioneer, led the live auction. A total of 17 auction items were offered including family getaways, wine and bourbon tours and a variety of destination packages. However, the VLM animal sponsorship packages were among the most popular items sold. Animal sponsorships included the VLM bobcat, red wolves, loggerhead sea turtle, great horned owl, and Moe and Molly, the museum’s otter mascots.

Supporting sponsors for the Otter Ball were MAIHS Foundation, Harry and Judy Wason, Ferguson Cares, Consumer Litigation Associates, W.M. Jordan Company, Abbitt Realty Company, LLC, Riverside Health System, Spectrum, Langley Federal Credit Union, Virginia Health Services, Dominion Energy Inc., Jeff’s Flowers Of Course Inc., and Bob Harper Photography. Special thanks to Kyle Hause, Auctioneer, and James River Audio Visual Services.

The Otter Ball Conservation Gala Fundraiser is the leading contributor to the museum’s conservation mission. The Otter Ball will help support science education and animal care needs of the museum. The community’s continuous support enables the VLM to sustain and strengthen the institution.

The museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, I-64, exit 258A.

For more information visit or call 757-595-1900.


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