NORFOLK, Va. – March 17, 2009 – An auction organized by the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children raised nearly $50,000 for the children and young adults who live at the Home, the only pediatric long-term-care residential facility of its size and scope in Virginia. Part of the money will be used to provide summer camp scholarships and to give the children their very own mermaid, with the Auxiliary granting other requests in the coming months.

More than 200 people came out to The Westin Hotel at Town Center in Virginia Beach and opened their hearts and wallets to bid on trips, artwork and many other items as the Auxiliary presented the fourth annual “There’s No Place Like Home” Gala and Auction on Feb. 20.

“Thank you to the hardworking women of the Auxiliary and to everyone who supported the auction and made it such a success,” said Karen Hibbard, Auxiliary president. “Together we are working to better the lives of the children who call St. Mary’s ‘home.’ ”

The evening’s highest bid – $5,000 – was fetched by something the winner won’t get to take home: the opportunity to give the children of SMHDC a mermaid like the statues of the mythic aquatic creatures scattered throughout Norfolk.  The man behind the winning bid was retired Navy Capt. Carl M. Albero, a member of St. Mary’s Board of Trustees and vice-chair of the Board of Colonna Shipyard.

“I am lucky to have two healthy granddaughters, and I wanted to help make the days for the children at St. Mary’s Home happier by enabling them to view the mermaid on a daily basis,” Albero said. “Plus, the Lord has been good to me and I want to share my blessings with others not as fortunate – in particular, the children of St. Mary’s.”

Thanks to Albero’s generosity, a mermaid statue to be designed by local sculptor Georgia Mason and decorated with the help of children from SMHDC will be displayed at the Home, which is sponsoring a special edition of the children’s book “There Goes a Mermaid” by Norfolk author Lisa Suhay. The updated version of the book, originally published in 2004, is to be released this spring in honor of the 10th anniversary of the city of Norfolk’s mermaid symbol – the inspiration for an outdoor public art project featuring colorfully decorated mermaid statues – as well as SMHDC’s 65th anniversary later this year.

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