Last year’s ugly sweater models

Last year’s ugly sweater models personally raised $21,000 at auction, enough to pay for 42 surgeries. (Henderson Independent File Photo/Rachel Miller)

Henderson is bringing ugly back this Saturday…the Ugly Sweater Ball, that is!

The hilarious, ugly and ever charitable fundraiser is back for a seventh year on Saturday, Nov. 30, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the RoadHaus Event Center.

Event coordinator Judy Sunderman and Kim Hammes have lined up another fun evening with another 10 ugly sweater models, ranging in age from 25 to 85. Brent O’Connell of St. Thomas is the youngest model this year, while Henderson’s own Fran Tiegs is the oldest at 85.

This year’s model lineup also includes Jodi Bruns, Josh Hermel and Cormac Dunning from Le Sueur, Alex Palmer from Mankato, Sally Simcox from Blakeley, Amanda Noyce from Belle Plaine, Kyle Marti from Schells Brewery in New Ulm and former University of Minnesota Wrestling Coach J. Robinson.

This year’s event will also feature a new game, “Fowl Play for Cash” which is similar to cow or chicken bingo. People can buy a number, and the owner of the number that the fowl, ahem, relieves itself on, is the winner.

Shotski will also be returning, and so will the 99 Bottles of Beer raffle, VIP Happy Hour, and silent auction. This year’s silent auction includes Twins tickets for the Champion Club, two tickets to see the Eagles, memberships to Caribou Gun Club and Traxler’s Hunting Preserve, and much more. The makers of last year’s impressive gnome house will be back with a beautiful carved cedar bench to bid on.

But that isn’t all. Sunderman said this year they are also inviting all previous sweater models to come up and be acknowledged in the “Strut of Champions.” After all, the previous six years of Ugly Sweater Ball models have collectively earned more than $80,000 for SMILE Network International, which benefits children in countries such as Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and India who are born with a cleft lip and/or palate.

A single surgery to fix a cleft lip and/or palate costs $500, and Sunderman said the funds raised at previous Ugly Sweater Balls have paid for more than 700 surgeries to date.

It would not be possible, however, without the support of Henderson RoadHaus owners Danny and Amy Ross, and the event sponsors, which this year are Schoeppner and Associates, Jay Zender State Farm Agency, and Hammes Team-Keller Williams.

The sponsorships allow Sunderman and Hammes to donate 100 percent of all money raised to SMILE Network International.

“We don’t have any expenses that come out of the money brought in that night because of sponsors and people like Danny and Amy,” Sunderman said.

The Ugly Sweater Ball also gets a boost from Sam Ediger-Johnson and Ediger Auctioneering Service in Belle Plaine, who donate their services for the big ugly sweater auction.

Sunderman said when the Graham brothers raised $500 with their sweaters the first year, the room went crazy. Now, it is not unusual for sweaters to go for that much. Last year, the ugly sweater auction alone raised approximately $21,000 of the evening’s more than $50,000 total.

Sunderman said one of their most fun sweaters was the two-headed sweater she and Hammes wore one year.

The RoadHaus has been home to the Ugly Sweater Ball every year since it started in 2013. In fact, the Ross’s took over the RoadHaus in the fall of 2012, so the fundraiser is almost as old as their ownership.

“I have only had one Thanksgiving without the Ugly Sweater Ball,” Danny Ross said.

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