At this time of year, our thoughts often turn to enjoying the fruits of a bountiful harvest in our gardens, orchards or fields. Like a good harvest, good health requires many, many hours of care and nurturing too.

That’s why “Together we will harvest healthy communities” is an apt theme for this year’s ninth annual Riverwood Gala fundraiser. On Saturday, October 12, Riverwood Foundation will host its signature fundraiser at the 40 Club Convention Center in Aitkin. This event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will feature fine dining with a wide variety of delicious entrees, side dishes, beverages and desserts—all generously provided by a dozen or so local restaurants and businesses.

The entertainment this year will feature Joe Schmit, KSTP TV sports anchor since 1985. A winner of 15 Emmys from the National Television Academy, he is also the host of TwinsWrap on 1500ESPN radio. With a strong commitment to community service, he is a long-time youth mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters at the top of his list. He is a past president and board member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Twin Cities, raising over $3 million for the organization through the Joe Schmit Celebrity Golf Tournament. Joe Schmit and his wife, Laura, are currently chairing a major capital campaign for VEAP, the largest food shelf in Minnesota.

Proceeds from the event will support wellness programming in the communities served by Riverwood. In February, Riverwood announced its participation in a three-year wellness initiative called Healthy Communities Partnership, with grant funding from Allina and the George Family Foundation. Based on growing community interest and success during the first year of intensive wellness programming around wellness coaching, screenings and connecting individuals with local wellness activities and resources, Riverwood is looking to build and expand wellness programs that will last well into the future. Financial support from community members and organizations will play a critical role in sustaining healthy communities with a focus on prevention and wellness.

“Riverwood is committed to the values of wellness with a focus on education and prevention,” says Liz Dean, Riverwood’s PR manager who oversees the wellness staff and programming. “Cultivating healthy communities is a win-win. Healthier outcomes for individuals translate to lower incidence of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and subsequently lower healthcare costs.”

Reservations for the Gala open Wednesday, September 4. With a limited number of seats available, this event often sells out quickly. Individual tickets are $85. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available as well. Those who attend are encouraged to dress up with formal or other attractive attire.

Katie Nelson, Riverwood Foundation manager, comments: “Fine dining. Great entertainment. Support for a cause that is close to your heart. You will find all this and more at our annual Gala, our signature fundraising event for supporting quality healthcare at Riverwood’s hospital and clinics. We invite you to join us for an evening filled with fun, excitement and a few surprises. We sincerely appreciate all the sponsorship support from local community members and businesses who help ensure the event’s success.”

A team of committed Riverwood Foundation volunteers is busy planning this year’s Gala. They include Shirley Callahan-Winegar, Kelli Gretschmann, Marilyn Johnson, Kim Jones, Melonie Laine, Peg Lundberg, Amanda McDonald, Melissa Magnuson, Tasha Paulbeck, Amber Roth, Erin Ryan and Ronna Steffen.

If you are unable to attend the Gala, consider making a tax-deductible donation. For tickets, sponsorship and donations inquiries, contact Katie Nelson at Riverwood Foundation at (218) 927-5158 or