Gambling for a good cause
Casino Night raises thousands for Palisades Medical Center
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Sep 16, 2012 | 1914 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CRAPS - Guests play at one of the many craps tables for Casino Night. 
(Courtesy of Gary Mignone)
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The Waterside Restaurant was transformed into a Las Vegas-style casino by Monte Carlo Casinos for Palisades Medical Center (PMC) on Thursday, Aug. 23. This was the sixth year for Annual Casino Night, and gamblers played games of chance while enjoying the view from the restaurant overlooking the waterfront from River Road in North Bergen.

The event’s humble beginning was beneath a tent, but now that it has changed venue, the sponsors say it has become more successful, raising more money every year.

Casino Night is planned and organized by the PMC Auxiliary, a team of dedicated volunteers that work throughout the year to develop fundraising activities that support PMC. The people that made Casino Night happen this year are Nancy Boden, chair of the PMC Auxiliary and Dennis Whitley, coordinator of Casino Night.

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“It’s very important to have these kinds of events to help the hospitals bring programs for the patients.” – Maria Perez

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Proceeds went to programs at the hospital, which serves a population of 400,000 in Hudson and southern Bergen Counties. It is a non-profit affiliated with Hackensack University Health Network and features a 202-bed hospital along with The Harborage, a 245-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center.

“With declining reimbursements from the state, from the federal government and the economy being difficult for many people in our communities, we rely heavily upon philanthropy and fundraising to help support the programs that we do at the hospital,” said president and CEO Bruce Markowitz. “Casino Night has been really successful for us. People are here to support the hospital. Everybody really enjoys themselves while doing something good for the community. What benefits the hospital benefits the community.”

Gambling for Palisades Medical Center

Casino Night brought out 200 local residents and generated nearly $20,000 to support the Palisades Medical Center Foundation. Last year the event raised $15,000. This event is no ordinary fundraiser, since guests don’t simply sign over a check to the hospital.

“It’s a beautiful summer event to raise money and it’s a fun atmosphere,” said Weehawken resident Diane Barsa. “It’s not the usual fundraiser because there’s games, entertainment.”

“We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by residents, businesses and community leaders who truly care about Palisades Medical Center and support its efforts to care for our neighbors,” said North Bergen resident Boden. “Thanks to their support, our Casino Night event has become one of the most popular fundraising events in our area.”

Cocktail hour and dinner were followed by gambling from 7 to 10:30 p.m. The last event of the evening was the basket raffle prizes and all prizes that must be claimed.

The games included Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em, Poker, Craps, Roulette, and the Money Wheel along with other versions of card games. Entertainment was provided by crooner Jason Nazzaro, who performed Frank Sinatra classics.

Guests received a Chip Pass worth $150 in chips that could be taken to any gaming dealer to be redeemed for chips. Table betting was limited to $10 with a maximum of $500. Atlantic City rules applied to gambling. For every $100 in chips accumulated players received one basket raffle ticket. There were also 50/50 raffle tickets that cost $10.

Sponsors for Casino Night included Benzel Busch, Audi Meadowlands, MTM Resources, Ambulatory Center for Endoscopy, New York Waterway, and United Water. Prizes from local and corporate merchants were distributed through a Basket Raffle holding iPad 2’s, Kindles and Jets tickets.

Boden and Director of External Affairs Gary Mignone agreed that of the several events PMC holds Casino Night is by far the largest. Mignone said that attendees have told him Casino Night is when they’ve had the most fun and it’s their favorite way to give back to the hospital.

“It’s a good time, beautiful view of course, and helps the foundation, [the] community itself and also The Harborage,” said Alicia Duroi, who is a member of the Casino Committee. “Even though you come in, you can’t lose [because you’re giving back].”

“It’s very important to have these kinds of events to help the hospitals bring programs for the patients,” said North Bergen resident Maria Perez from NJ Sharing Network, who do organ and tissue donations and are affiliated with PMC. “I love it [Casino Night], it’s one of my favorites. I wish it was every day.”

“To support the hospital as they support us,” said Education and Partnerships Coordinator Alyssa D’Addio.

For further information visit www.palisadesmedicalfoundation.org/upcoming_events.html.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at vcruz@hudsonreporter.com

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