Story by Taylor Inman, Contributing writer
While the Murray Woman’s Club has had its share of weddings and parties, for the first time ever, they hosted a Valentine’s Masquerade Charity Ball, complete with live band and dancing crowds, in hopes of raising money to support Murray’s law enforcement and fire and rescue departments.
Ali Ray, head organizer for the event, wanted to put on something that would give people a reason to dress up and go out.
“I have never seen anything like this here,” Ray said. “There’s ‘little black dress’ parties here and there, but nothing like this where you can get dressed up, go out have fun and donate to a charity for people who save our lives every day.”
The proceeds from the ball were split between the Calloway County Fire and Rescue, Murray Fire Department, Murray Police Department and the Calloway County Sheriff’s Department. The money was specifically for officers or fire and rescue personnel who get injured or killed in the line of duty. Ray explains how there isn’t really much going on for that cause or for those departments in general.
“I don’t know of any actual fundraiser for our actual police department or fire and rescue in our area,” Ray said. “There’s nothing that benefits them directly.”
With Ray doing some sort of event nearly every year, she is no stranger to charity. She once donated roses to Calloway County High School to randomly give to girls who might not have gotten anything for Valentine’s Day.
“Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily my favorite holiday. I feel it can be a sad holiday for people,” Ray said. “So, if you’re a family member of an officer who has been fatally injured and they’re not there, it could be really hard. So I was just looking for something to boost people’s spirits.”
Among all of the people in masks Friday night was Amy Washington-Owens, who lost her husband in 2011 when he was driving home from his job with the Mayfield Police Department and crashed his car. Washington-Owens spoke from her own experience, talking about how people tend to forget that something like that could happen.
“You know it’s a dangerous job but you don’t think anything’s ever going to happen,” Washington-Owens said. “So if it’s easy for a spouse to forget, it’s easy for community to forget too.”
She said when she heard about Ray’s plan for a masquerade charity ball, she was instantly interested.
“When I found out what it was for, I was pretty excited and curious to what inspired that,” Washington-Owens said. “Community members don’t always think about those things. You don’t think about law enforcement until you need them,”
But while people were dancing, laughing or enjoying chocolate–covered strawberries,, there was a sense of higher purpose for the entire night.
“It’s not even the financial aspects of it,” Washington-Owens said. “It’s just knowing that someone out there cares.”