Sports, music, food and fundraising soon will meet at a friendly, "fun-filled" crossroads for those people who love to show super-sized support for a cause, promised one official.
The Fort Smith Crisis Intervention Center will host its fourth annual Tailgate for a Cause fundraiser from 6-10 p.m. Sept. 8 at Fianna Hills Country Club, No. 1 Essex Place. The tailgate-themed event will raise money for the Crisis Intervention Center and include "high-end" tailgate food, live music, silent and live auctions, a watch party for the Arkansas Razorbacks/Colorado State Rams football game, tailgate games, beer, wine and more, said Susan Hickam, assistant director for the Fort Smith Crisis Intervention Center.
"I am most excited about the fact that we are bringing this wonderful awareness to our community," she said. "The fact that we can bring our community together, have fun, eat really good food, watch good football and listen to some fantastic music, all while supporting the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse who live in our six-county area, is great.
"For those victims to know that their community does support them, that is a wonderful thing," Hickam added.
Covering Sebastian, Crawford, Logan, Franklin, Scott and Polk counties in Arkansas and LeFlore and Sequoyah counties in Oklahoma, the Fort Smith Crisis Intervention Center is a United Way of Fort Smith Area community partner and serves more than 400 area individuals who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence each year, she said. The center offers 24/7 help, shelter and care, as well as a prevention program and other programs; the center's hotline is (800) 359-0056.
This year's Tailgate for a Cause will feature some of the "best" musical talent to be found in the region, said Hickam. Those set to provide these impressive, harmony-filled sounds will be the Allison Grace Band and the Don Bailey Band, she said.
"Allison Grace, first of all, is local; she knows this community, and the community knows her," Hickam said. "Allison supports us. She supports her community, and people would love to have a familiar face present."
Allison Grace Band will play various styles outside while the Don Bailey Band will be making music indoors during the fundraiser, she said.
"This way, you have some variety from two great groups," Hickam said. "You can choose your type of music and setting. There really will be variety for everyone."
Mickey Sellard, executive chef with Fianna Hills, will prepare the menu that will leave attendees' eyes wide and stomachs happy, she said.
"The food will be on a bigger, better scale," Hickam said. "The food will be more than your typical tailgate food. We have upped it, and it will include smoked chicken, ribs, sausage, wings potato salad, coleslaw, peach cobbler, Razorback cupcakes, iced tea and complimentary wine and beer."
Live and silent auctions will add to the atmosphere while people eat, listen to music and watch the Razorbacks via numerous TV screens, she said.
"We have a Costa Rica vacation for six, and for the Razorback game on Sept. 15, we have a tailgate party package that includes four tickets on the 45-yard line," Hickam said. "We also will have an Oaklawn package with box seats, a group Vegas trip and more."
Those in attendance also can try their luck during the Wine Pull for $20; participants will go home with a bottle that "is worth at the very least $20," she said.
Candace Rice, a sexual assault coordinator for the Crisis Intervention Center, predicted that the Razorbacks will win the game by 10 points.
"It's always a lot of fun watching everyone in the community come together and support this cause," she said. "It's great to see them support the Crisis Intervention Center and support the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Getting to see how their support positively impacts the families we work with, it's good."
Hickam was more hesitant than Rice when asked to make a score prediction for the Razorbacks' game.
"I'm going to just say Razorbacks," she said with a laugh. "The Razorbacks. That is all I need."
Tickets for Tailgate for a Cause are $50 for business professionals and others who are 40 and younger and $75 for others. Tickets can be purchased by calling (479) 782-1821, at FSCIC.org and at the door, and dress is casual and/or sports-themed clothing.
"With the different ticket prices, we thought it would be a different way to bring in people from different businesses for our event," Hickam said. "We wanted to make this available to everyone, because we do have victims of all ages.
"To get younger people involved is important," she added. "It's important that we reach every demographic in our community, because domestic violence and sexual assault leave no demographic untouched."
"Abusers are going to do whatever they can to keep power and control over their victims — abusing them, isolating them, doing everything they can to make sure that person doesn't leave that situation," she said. "A lot of people stay because they don't know there is another way.
"They don't know that resources are available to them, such as the Crisis Intervention Center," Rice added. "They don't know that leaving is an option, but it is an option. And it's so great to see people break that cycle of abuse and assault."