'Hat's on' for a great cause to benefit Shannon Cox Counseling Center

By By Frank DiCesare / American Press

Mint juleps, extravagant hats and beautiful horses will be on display May 3 as The Stables at Le Bocage holds its second annual

Derby for Dollars to benefit the Shannon Cox Counseling Center in Lake Charles.

The event, hosted by the Friends of

Shannon Cox, brings all of the Kentucky Derby’s excitement and pageantry

to Lake Charles.

Attendees will have the opportunity to place bets on the race,

which will be broadcasted live on large-screen TVs. Attendees

will also be served cocktails and food catered from more than 10

area restaurants, with some chefs cooking meals on site.

This year’s Derby for Dollars will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Upon arrival, attendees will be greeted by a red carpet that

will lead them to a mint julep bar at the center of the stables. Attendees are asked to dress in their best Derby attire.

Hats for women and men are optional but encouraged. A Hat Contest will be held for women; men will compete for Best Derby

Duds. Winners in both categories will be awarded a gift basket.

Ginny Henning, who owns The Stables at

Le Bocage with her husband John, said the stable will hold a 45-minute

jumping show

prior to the race. Henning, who serves as member of the Derby for

Dollars board, said the event highlights a center that brings

group counseling services to the area’s children.

“There are plenty of counselors in town, but there wasn’t a place that had group counseling where kids could be with other

kids who suffered from the same kind of trauma,” she said. “It was discovered with the Holocaust victims that whenever you

get people together who suffer from the same kind of trauma they are more likely to open up.”

A silent auction will also be held at

this year’s Derby for Dollars. Attendees will be able to bid on such

items as a 6-by-9

Turkish rug, a weekend stay at Coushatta Casino Resort, the use of

condominiums in Destin, Fla., and Puerto Adventuras, Mexico,

and much more.

Palm Beach Gardens artist Laurie Snow Hein will do a painting on site. Her finished work will also be put up for bid.

Last year’s Derby for Dollars sold out,

raising $63,000 for the Shannon Cox Counseling Center. This year’s

event is also expected

to sell out, as only a limited amount of tickets are available.

Tickets to this year’s event are $100

per person, which includes all food and drinks, said Maria Alcantara

Faul, vice president

of development for the Family & Youth Counseling Agency. The

Shannon Cox Counseling Center is a division of Family & Youth.

Board Member Robert Piper said more than 800 children have attended the center for counseling since its opening in 2010.

“Our area had tremendous demand for

it,” he said. “I think one of the things that’s interesting about this

particular non-profit

is that everything about it was born locally. It was a local

tragedy that amplified a local need and it was local people who

came together because of the tragedy to meet the need. It’s not

like it was United Way or Red Cross or Catholic Charities.

This effort was born and raised locally and is operated locally.”

The Shannon Cox Counseling Center offers grief counseling to children, families and individuals. Cox, a local advocate for

the underprivileged and exploited, was killed in a car accident in 2010. Upon her death, the Hennings provided funding to

establish the center in 2011.