“Girls Night Out” event kicks off tonight

By Olivia Willoughby

Several downtown businesses in DeKalb will host a “Girls Night Out” event from 5 to 8 p.m tonight to benefit the American Heart Association.

“It seems like a great way to show what I believe is a worthy cause,” said Debbie Witmer,co-owner of O’Leary’s Restaurant & Pub, 260 E. Lincoln Highway, and “Girls Night Out” organizer. “Also, it’s a way to get people back downtown to see it again.”

Tonight’s event will be the first “Girls Night Out”, and Witmer has gotten help from other local businesses.

“I have been amazed by the positive responses from the community in asking for help,” Witmer said. “All the restaurants and merchants are participating, including O’Learys, DeKalb Park District, DeKalb Public Library  and many other organizations that are a strong part of DeKalb.”

Sarah Rogers, School of Debutantes co-owner, helped Witmer plan the event.

“We were just looking at ways to partner with local downtown businesses,” Rogers said. “We wanted to give back to a lot of people. It’s a dedication to my mom who passed away from cancer. The American Heart Association is near and dear to our hearts, so we partnered with them.”

Ten locations will hold raffles, including O’Learys. Debutantes, 145 N. Third St., will help prepare for the night because the theme is red. Red hair extensions are $2 and manicures are $5.

Both Witmer and Rogers said they hope the event will become an annual occurrence.

“I do want to turn this into an annual event for the last Thursday in September,” Witmer said.

Another local business, Cracker Jax, 118 N. Third St., is a participant as well.

“We’re raffling off two gift certificates for $50,” said owner Lauren Woods. “We’re also going to have someone speak so we can get the word out about things people might not know about or ignore.”

Woods, like Rogers, has a personal connection to this event.

“I’ve had friends that have had heart problems,” Woods said. “It’s the number one killer in women today. Women need to get educated since the focus is usually on men.”

Proceeds will go to the American Heart Association.

“It is going to stay local instead of national,” Witmer said. “It will go to our county.”