Petaluma raises $200,000 for kids in one night

More than 1,300 people turned out Saturday evening to listen to singer Sheena Easton perform, mingle with a trio of retired baseball greats and help raise about $200,000 for Petaluma children with serious illnesses.

It was the 24th annual Carousel Fund Casino Night at the Petaluma Veterans Building, and guests were reminded early in the evening why they had come.

Seven-year-old Ella Stewart took the stage with her parents, who thanked the Carousel Fund volunteers and the audience for their support. Ella was diagnosed with a brain tumor and spent several months in a coma, during which her family would have lost their house if not for the help of the Carousel Fund.

Carousel Fund Casino Night


"Ella and her family reminded people why they were there and why we raise money to help families who struggle every day to keep their children alive," said Arnie Cohen, president of the nonprofit group.

The Carousel Fund is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to raise funds to help Petaluma families pay for the medical expenses of children with catastrophic illnesses or injuries. Since its beginning in 1986, it has raised more than $3.5 million.

Easton, a Scottish recording artist known for songs such as "Morning Train," "Strut" and "For Your Eyes Only," concluding the evening with a 90-minute performance with her five-piece band, including singer Philip Ingram (brother of singer James Ingram).

"For Your Eyes Only," the theme from a James Bond movie of the same title, inspired an Agent 007 theme for the evening, "Shaken, Not Stirred," complete with dancing "Bond girls" above the crowd at the rear of the main room.

Money was raised through the live and silent auctions, gaming tables, drink sales and donations.

One of the big-ticket auction items was the use of a new Aston Martin automobile and a two-night stay at Solage Calistoga.

"There was some lively bidding," Cohen said, adding that many of the items sold for several thousand dollars apiece.

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