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Royal court announced for Twin Cedars ball

Competition to help raise abuse awareness

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

Regenia Andrews, far right, sits with fellow queen candidates at an introductory meeting Tuesday for the 2016 Behind the Mask Ball and fundraising event hosted by Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_BTM1.jpgRegenia Andrews, far right, sits with fellow queen candidates at an introductory meeting Tuesday for the 2016 Behind the Mask Ball and fundraising event hosted by Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services. Melanie Ruberti | Daily News
Dale Jackson is one of ten men competing for the title of “King” in this year’s Behind the Mask event. He also has some tough competition – his sister, Caysi Brooks-Swol, is a candidate this year for “Queen.”
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_BTM2.jpgDale Jackson is one of ten men competing for the title of “King” in this year’s Behind the Mask event. He also has some tough competition – his sister, Caysi Brooks-Swol, is a candidate this year for “Queen.” Melanie Ruberti | Daily News
Candidates for the 2016 Behind the Mask King and Queen competition met Tuesday night for an introductory meeting at the Coleman Center off Dallis Street. The candidates will try to garner as many votes possible – while raising money for Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services. Votes cost $1. A list of all the candidates can be found at www.twincedars.org/events.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_BTM3.jpgCandidates for the 2016 Behind the Mask King and Queen competition met Tuesday night for an introductory meeting at the Coleman Center off Dallis Street. The candidates will try to garner as many votes possible – while raising money for Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services. Votes cost $1. A list of all the candidates can be found at www.twincedars.org/events.Melanie Ruberti | Daily News

LaGRANGE — Royalty will soon be gracing the streets of Troup County.

Though people may not see any red carpets, tiaras, carriages or royal guards right away, they will see at least 20 folks from the community campaigning hard for people’s votes to be king and queen.

The group, known as the Royal Court, was announced Tuesday night at the Coleman Center as the 2016 candidates for Twin Cedars fourth annual Behind the Mask Ball.

“Most people think I’ve been running for office for years now,” joked Dale Jackson, candidate, and the owner and partner of Jackson Heating and Air. “But this will actually be my first official campaign. I intend to use social media a lot … nothing too specific yet.”

His sister, Caysi Brooks-Swol, also is a royal candidate, vying for queen.

But fellow candidate Regenia Andrews, Realtor with Coldwell Banker Spinks Brown Durand, said she may already have a slight edge over all her fellow competitors.

“You know, the name Regenia actually means ‘Queen,’” she said with a smile. “My daughters are my campaign managers and they’re brilliant in coming up with ideas and strategies … so I intend to make Twin Cedars proud.”

Behind the Mask is a dinner and dance event with a Mardi Gras flair that embraces some of the New Orleans culture.

“Every year, there are masks that people make and wear. Each year they seem to become more and more elaborate with feathers and rhinestones,” described Sheri Cody, deputy director of Twin Cedars.

“An hour before the event starts, there is an investiture … which is the crowning of the King and Queen. We always try to hold it on the roof top of the Del’Avant, where the event is held,” explained Lisa Wicker, public relations director with Twin Cedars. “The mayor (Jim Thornton) is there and he reads a proclamation giving the King and Queen ceremonial rule over the city for the night … sometimes we throw beads from the roof top. It is a lot of fun.”

While the event itself is a light-hearted affair, it serves a much deeper purpose.

According to Wicker, Behind the Mask is used as an educational tool to showcase all the programs and services offered by Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, plus shine a light on the difficult and painful topic of child sexual abuse.

Wicker said every night there are 180 youths in Twin Cedars residential care facilities, plus 460 children and families taking part in the agency’s many programs throughout Georgia and East Alabama.

The ball also serves as a fundraising event for 11 programs offered by the agency such as the Bradfield Home and the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Wicker said last year, the winning King and Queen, Mechelle Wheless and Kevin Reynolds, raised $31,000 through their combined campaigns. The event brought in more than $60,000 for Twin Cedars, which was a record amount, stated Wicker.

More importantly, all the funds raised stay local and fund the programs in the community.

“It translates to activities for our kids, things they need — trips, educational tools, counseling and more,” Wicker explained.

The 2016 goal for the King and Queen campaigns is $32,000, and this year’s court of candidates said they are excited, and honored, to be a part of the fundraising process.

“I hope my friends will support the cause, and I hope to bring life long support to the organization … from people that have never thought about helping Twin Cedars before now,” Andrews explained. “I think we all want to win it, but in the end, we all win because we’ve all given of ourselves. We’ve all done our part.”

Jackson agreed.

“The winner is Twin Cedars and the families they serve,” he said. “My goal is just to raise more money than the candidates did last year and to be an ambassador for Twin Cedars. I feel like I can bring a lot of awareness and be an advocate for the agency and all they do.”

The polls are open to cast your ballot for the 2016 King and Queen of the Behind the Mask Ball befitting Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services.

Each vote cost $1.

Anyone who wants to see a complete list of candidates and to cast a ballot may visit the Twin Cedars website at twincedars.org/events.

The Behind the Mask Ball will be Jan. 30. Tickets are already on sale for the event and there are a limited number available. The cost is $75 per person or $700 for a table of eight.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Twin Cedars website at twincedars.org/events or call 706-298-0500, ext. 1071 or 1078.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.