Chatti Gras establishes mark as key fundraiser for Chattanooga schools

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNDRAISER Kathy Thaggard, Lil Harting, and Annie Robbins (shown from left) were among the 833 guests at Chatti Gras. Photo by Dan McWilliams

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNDRAISER Kathy Thaggard, Lil Harting, and Annie Robbins (shown from left) were among the 833 guests at Chatti Gras. Photo by Dan McWilliams

The Chattanooga Deanery’s three schools—Notre Dame, St. Jude and Our Lady of Perpetual Help—joined forces for the second consecutive year to throw a Mardi Gras celebration and fundraiser for tuition assistance programs.

Chatti Gras attracted more than 800 guests, who spent an evening at the Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center enjoying live music, dinner, dancing, a silent auction and casino games to benefit the Feb. 9 fundraiser.

Bishop Richard F. Stika opened the fundraising festivities with prayer and remarks about the important role Catholic schools play in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Bishop Stika thanked the Chatti Gras guests for their support of Catholic schools, calling Catholic education “a joy, a gift” that is “precious.” He noted that Catholic education has come a long way since schools were staffed primarily by priests and sisters who helped keep costs low. But costs have risen as Catholic education has expanded and supporters are vital to furthering the mission of Catholic education.

Chatti Gras was launched last year as a way for Chattanooga’s Catholic schools to “work smarter instead of working harder” to raise funds for school programs and activities. The event, involving hundreds of volunteers, coincides with Mardi Gras to mark the Lenten season.

Kathleen Etherton, director of development and clinic manager at St. Jude School, said the 2013 Chatti Gras drew 833 supporters who filled 104 tables. The event also attracted 54 sponsors, with Memorial Health Care System, East Tennessee’s only Catholic hospital and located in Chattanooga, as the presenting sponsor.

Proceeds from the event are shared equally by St. Jude, OLPH, Notre Dame and the Chattanooga Deanery Tuition Operating Fund.

“Overall, we were extremely pleased and happy with the turnout for Chatti Gras 2013. I believe everyone had a great time,” Mrs. Etherton said. “We believe one of the biggest benefits of Chatti Gras is not only the fact that we raise money but that we have created a special event for our community. We have succeeded in bringing people from across our deanery together for a night of fun and fellowship.”

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