Those who have never attended the annual Art of Healing would probably be surprised to find out what kind of event it is. It’s not a stuffy, wine-and-cheese, little-finger-out-when-you-sip-the-tea, black-tie affair. It’s casual (cocktail attire). Fun even.

There is a wide array of beautiful, reasonably-priced art, mostly from local artists — paintings, pottery, sculptures, woodworks, jewelry, photographs, etc. — to peruse or purchase. And the food is amazing. It’s not a formal sit-down dinner. Attendees can walk through and pick from all sorts of delectable entrees, appetizers and desserts, including the popular chocolate fountain. It’s not what one would consider to be the typical “hospital food.”

It is, however, done by the hospital and for the hospital, as a way of helping the community. The money that is raised in the silent and live auctions and from ticket sales goes to help South Central Regional Medical Center provide free screenings for all sorts of awful ailments.

The only part of the evening that’s solemn is when the people in attendance are reminded why they are there. People who have been the beneficiary of early detection of a dreadful disease will talk about how that screening bought them more time with their family. It’s always an inspiring reminder, and there’s no telling how many lives have been saved or prolonged because of their testimonials and because of the funds that were raised and paid for others to get a free health screening.

You can’t beat a great cause that’s fun and mutually beneficial, too.

South Central has such an amazing impact on this community and that will only be on the increase as work continues on the massive expansion under way in Laurel right now. Cities much larger than our own would be grateful to have even half of the services offered by the men and women who make South Central one of the finest medical facilities in the Southeast.

Now it is time for all of you, whether you have used the hospital’s services or not, to give back and say thank you. We know that those folks don’t do this work for pats on the back, but a little nudge of thanks never hurt anyone.

We urge everyone to come out to The Gables on Bush Dairy Road on Saturday night to check it out, eat some tasty food, drink some adult beverages and listen to some smooth tunes from Dr. Zarr and the Amazing Funk Monster, all for a great cause. Tickets are $40 each. Call 601-399-0503 for tickets or visit scrmc.com and click on the Art of Healing link.

We will see you there.

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