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Splash of Spirits offers fun for good cause

Arlene Grassel, left, and her husband, John Grassel, visit in Arlene's room at Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell. With the planned addition at Avera Brady, Arlene will get her own room, allowing more space for her husband to visit. Funds raised from the annual Splash of Spirits, Saturday, Nov. 12, will be put toward Avera Brady's building project.(Jennifer Jungwirth/Republic)

John Grassel visits his wife, Arlene, each day at Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell.

Constricted space makes it difficult for the couple, who have been married 65 years, to have privacy. When other family members visit, Arlene's half of the room is crowded.

"It's hard to avoid conflict on the other side of the curtain," John said. "It isn't always that way, but we'd like more space."

To improve the quality of life for people like the Grassels, proceeds from the Avera Queen of Peace Foundation's annual Splash of Spirits will go this year to an Avera Brady building project.

In years past, the event, which is in its sixth year, has been a fundraiser for breast cancer. Because Avera Brady is working toward raising $1 million for its building campaign, Splash of Spirit organizers thought their event could help the cause.

"When our nursing home was built in 1961, it was built to serve the greatest number of people it could at one time," said Veronica Smith, Avera Brady Health and Rehab administrator. "As we've grown as an industry, we want to be more person-centered. Instead of having someone movie in and fit our schedule, we're trying to fit their schedule."

Avera Brady's project includes a 17,000-square foot addition, which will have 17 new resident rooms, a theater, pub/ice cream parlor, new therapy center and an improved beauty salon. Seventeen of the existing double rooms then will be renovated into single rooms.

"This will enhance our time as a couple," John Grassel said. "I won't have to visit in the early morning or late at night anymore."

Splash of Spirits is from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Highland Conference Center. The event includes wine and beer tasting, food vendors, a silent auction and live music.

"It's a kickoff to the holiday season," said Sherri Patzer, foundation event coordinator at Avera Queen of Peace.

Tickets are $55 and can be bought at the Tumbleweed, County Fair Foods and online at

"It's a good time to be able to go out with your friends, your spouse or your family," said Tracy Pardy, foundation director at Avera Queen of Peace. "All the while, you're taking money and putting it toward a good cause, giving residents the lifestyle they deserve."

The Splash of Spirits format is similar to years past. The wine and beer tasting will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. During that time, guests can buy gift boxes and bid on silent auction items.

There will be six beers and six tables filled with wine choices. The wine selections are from around the world -- Germany, Australia, Argentina and even South Dakota. A variety of food will be available from Culver's, Ruby Tuesday, County Fair, Whiskey Creek and other Mitchell restaurants.

Gift boxes are $25 apiece. There are more than 100 available for purchase. Each box contains a gift -- pizza for a year, jewelry, "something for everyone," Pardy said.

At 8 p.m., the party will be moved into the main ballroom. Following a short program, Bill Comet and The Haleys will perform. The silent auction will be closed at 9:45 p.m.

A live auction will sell items, including a three-day stay at Terry Peak, a week-long trip to Florida and a fishing trip in Pierre.

In addition to the auction items and gift boxes, a $20 Shopapalooza card will be sold. The card will provide discounts at Mitchell stores and restaurants the weekend of Nov. 18-19.

"It's a shopping passport," Patzer said. "We have about 20 businesses on the card. All that money is a profit to us."