Second annual event benefits the American Heart Association

By Maria Ahmad

Downtown DeKalb came together Thursday for a night of fun, food, raffles, giveaways and fundraising as part of the second annual Girls Night Out.

Local businesses opened their doors for new and returning customers with free giveaways and raffle prizes with all proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association (AHA). The idea for Girls Night Out was founded upon a similar fundraising event held in downtown Sycamore which raises money for breast cancer. The idea was initiated by Debbie Witmer, co-owner of O’Leary’s Pub, 260 E. Lincoln Highway, and Sarah Rogers, owner of Debutantes School of Cosmetology and Nail Technology, 145 N. Third St.

“It is a wonderful cause that was started last year,” Rogers said. “Heart disease is the number one killer of women, and women in the area can help fight that.”

Red balloons hung outside of the businesses participating. Maps that marked businesses with raffles or free information were provided. The Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., hosted a silent auction with donations from local businesses. Many organizations planned to have tables lined up along Lincoln Highway but moved the tables inside Debutantes School of Cosmetology and Nail Technology because of the weather.

“This is the second year for the event and the second time we had horrible weather,” Witmer said. “Regardless of numbers, the event is getting better and better compared to last year, when I had to beg for business participants, and this year, they reached out to us themselves.”

Witmer said the event could not have been done without the help of Kishwaukee Hospital. Kishwaukee Hospital had a table set up in Debutantes and was raffling off free cooking and health classes offered at Kishwaukee Community College.

“Women need to realize cardio is a big part of women’s health,” said Tammy Voiles, a cardiovascular educator for the cardiology lab at Kishwaukee Hospital. “We are here to make people aware.”

Witmer said she hopes this year’s fundraising will at least match the amount of money raised last year. As of Sunday afternoon, the raised funds were still being calculated, according to a staff member at O’Leary’s Pub.