HACKETTSTOWN, NJ-The Lackland Center at Centenary was the site of the Newton Medical Center Foundations annual Evening of Wine and Roses on Thursday.  Hosting more than 800 guests,  30 restaurants and more than 100 wine vendors, the event is the major fundraiser for the year.   

Mark Avondoglio is Newton Medical Center Foundation Committee Chairman and Chairman of the Board and fourth generation owner of Perona Farms in Sparta.  He said, "We expect to raise around a quarter of a million dollars from this event."   

The foundation supports the hospital in many ways; everything from an Automated External Defibrillator program, to funding the new Emergency Room and the new MRI suite added in 2012.  "The hospital tells us what they need and we work to make it happen, like the MRI suite.  Doctors at Morristown are sending their patients to Newton because we have the best machine in the fleet."

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Each year there is a featured guest in the VIP area.  This year Wine and Roses guests had the opportunity to have a photo with renown American chef Mario Batali.  Batali has been part of the television shows Malto Mario, Iron Chef America and most recently The Chew.  Batali can trace his culinary roots to New Jersey, beginning at the popular Rutgers campus eatery Stuff Yer Face. 

After graduating from Rutgers, Batali attended the Cordon Blue for a short time.  He has had a storied career that includes opening restaurants  Babbo and Po in Manhattan.   

At the Athlantic Health event more than a hundred people waited on a line that snaked its way all the way though the large VIP tent, just for a few moments with the chef.  Batali made a colorful picture with his red hair pulled back into a ponytail secured with an orange hair tie that not only matched his shorts and crocks but the event colors as well. 

According to Robert Seman of Atlantic Health System, past featured guests have included Celebrity Chefs Rachael Ray, Lidia Bastianich, Michael Colameco, Davit Burke, Salvatore Scognamillo, Nick Stellino The Love Chef Francis Anthony, Tony Tantillo.  Last year's master of ceremony was  WLNY 1055's Live from the Couch health and wellness reporter Katie McGee.

More than eight months in planning pays off; this event has raised over two million dollars since it began 16 years ago.  For the first nine years the event was held at the Sussex County Fairground following the flower show.  As they grew they moved to Legends Resort in Vernon, then Morris Crossroads for a year.  Lackland Center at Centenary College has been the site of the event for the past four years. 

The foundation has a vibrant scholarship program to support future nurses in their studies.  Other initiatives supported by the foundation include:

  • The Charles L Tice Heart Center,
  • The Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy and Speech Rehabilitation Center,
  • The Wound Care-Hyperbaric Suite,
  • Advanced Care Unit,
  • Nursing unit upgrades,
  • Redesign of the single room maternity department.

Atlantic Health System, Peter R and Cynthia K Kellogg Foundation and RoNetCo Supermarkets are major supporters of the annual event.  Several of the foundation and hospital executives were in attendance as well.  From Newton Medical Center:

  • Joe DiPaolo, President, Newton Medical Center, Vice President, Atlantic Health System
  • Paul Owens, Chief Medical Officer – Newton Medical Center
  • Mary Reasoner, Director, Business Development and Physician Relations - Newton Medical Center
  • Ardelle Bigos, Chief Nursing Officer – Newton Medical Center
  • Maryanne Fox – Director, Quality - Newton Medical Center

From the Newton Medical Center Foundation:

  • Megan Sandow, Chief Development Officer – Newton Medical Center Foundation
  • Jim Furgeson, Director, Community and Donor Relations – Newton Medical Center Foundation
  • David Stein,  Member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer- Newton Medical Center Foundation

From the parent company Atlantic Health System

  • Kevin Lenahan, Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Atlantic Health System
  • Bill Neigher, Vice President, System Development, Chief Strategy Officer, Atlantic Health System
  • Rich Donovan, Director, Transportation, Atlantic Health System, Atlantic Ambulance Corporation
  • Sheilah O’Halloran, Asst. General Council - Atlantic Health System
  • Eva Goldenberg, Director, Corporate Compliance & Internal Audit– Atlantic Health System
  • Robert Peake Jr., Director, Facilities, Construction and Real Estate, Atlantic Health System

Seman adds, "This event continues to grow and flourish thanks to the generous support of the community we serve."