Major fundraiser for the Learning Disabilities Association of Red Deer coming up

The second annual Mystery Date with a Star fundraiser for the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta is slated for May 3.

A reception begins at 5 p.m. at the Red Deer Lodge, which also includes entertainment, live and silent auctions and a cash bar. Dinner is at 8 p.m. at locations around the City with one of the ‘stars’.

So far, confirmed stars include Joel Ward (president of Red Deer College), Mary Anne Jablonski (MLA for Red Deer north), Ben Crane (cowboy poet/songwriter/artist), Danielle Smith (leader of the Wildrose Party) and Ari Taub (Olympian/wrestler/lawyer/motivational speaker) among others.

Folks can also buy tickets at the local chapter office to attend the auctions and entertainment portion of the evening only if they wish.

All proceeds from the evening support the programs and services provided by the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta – Red Deer Chapter. It’s a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing the education and social development of people with learning disabilities.

This is accomplished through programs, services, and partnerships with professionals and the community. Examples of programs include the Think Social program, the Social Competence Camp and the tutoring program.

It’s been a tough road for the Association over the past year – they were nearly forced to close their doors in June of 2010. And while community and corporate donations and various grants have helped them continue over the past several months, there is still an urgent need for consistent funding, said Sheryl Krill, executive director.

“The need for us to survive is so great,” she said. “This is just too important.”

Clients are increasingly seeking out their services. Over the 2009/10 season, 470 people assessed their services. That number shot up to 788 over the 2010/11 season, she said. This excludes drop-ins, which can amount to about 12 per week.

Krill also said there is a steady stream of inquiries each month via phone and email as well.

According to the Society, 10 to 20% of Central Albertans are diagnosed with a learning disability, with many more going undiagnosed.

Also, 64.9% of school-aged children with disabilities have a learning disability, and 80% of learning disabilities are in the areas of literacy/reading and writing.

Statistics also show that 75% of children who show reading problems by the end of Grade 3 will continue to experience reading difficulties into adulthood, and that 35% of students identified as having learning disabilities drop out of high school.

For tickets to the Mystery Date with a Star, ($100 for individuals or $550 for a table of six), call the Black Knight Inn ticket centre at 403-343-6666 or visit Charitable donation receipts will be available for 75% of the ticket price.

For more information about the mission and work of the organization, call the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta’s local office at 403-340-3885.

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