Celebrate "A Night of Decadence" at the Woodstone Country Club in Danielsville, as the Blue Mountain Health Systems celebrates its 13th annual fundraising gala on April 17.

While the black-tie affair will feature a decadent night of Champagne and chocolate, gourmet food and live entertainment, the event is meant to honor the "decadent" display of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.

The gala committee settled upon this theme to honor Blackwell's courage and daring.

She earned her degree during a time when medicine was practiced only by men, and many were scandalized by Blackwell's belief that she had the intellect and ability to become a physician.

"It's really about the decadence of thinking," said Joe Guardiani, director of fund development at Blue Mountain.

"She had the decadence to go above and beyond, and to clear the hurdles that get in the way of enlightenment. She paved the way."

The theme will also honor this year's gala co-chairs, Drs. Deborah Smith, Barbara Davis, and Cheryl Lipson, three Blue Mountain physicians who have dedicated their careers to medicine and healing.

"They are three of the finest members of our medical staff, and they also happen to be women," said Guardiani.

Drs. Smith and Davis have been serving on the gala committee for several years, and Dr. Lipson was recruited to the committee for the first time this year.

"We are honored to be co-chairs, and thankful to (Blackwell) for paving the way for women physicians throughout the world," added Smith.

The annual gala is the health system's cornerstone fundraiser.

The goal for this year's event is to raise more than $90,000, which will be used to remodel patient rooms at Blue Mountain Health Systems, including the Lehighton and Palmerton hospital campuses and The Summit Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

"I know that with the help of these physicians, we will meet our goal," said Guardiani. The committee has raised $57,000 to date and will continue to raise funds until the gala next month.

The gala will formally begin with champagne and hors d'oeuvres at 6 p.m., followed by entrée stations and dancing at 7 p.m.

The event will feature a silent auction and a live auction at the end of the evening.

Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase a key for a locked box contest and the chance to win the item inside.

Gala committee members include Guardiani; co-chairs Davis, Lipson and Smith; Jeannine Siegmond; Romaine Biege; Kay DeMatte; Jennifer Roberti; Vicky Hanley; Susan Strauss; Lois Richards; Allison Long; Denise Chickilly; Alicia Shutack-Silliman; Sylvia Goral; Patty DeSousa; and Lisa Johnson.

The event is attended by many physicians and staff members of BMHS. Members of the community are also invited and encouraged to attend, and can receive an invitation by contacting Guardiani.

Reservations are requested by March 29. The admission price is $150.

To receive an invitation to the gala or to offer a donation for the silent auction or fund development project, contact Guardiani at (610) 377-7350 or jguardiani@blmtn.org [2].