Event to launch Child Abuse Awareness Month

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Want dinner served by a gold medalist?

Try stopping by Il Giardino’s Ristorante Thursday night around 6:30 p.m.

LaShawn Merritt, last summer’s Olympic gold medalist in the 400m dash, will be one of more than 120 local celebrities helping to bring awareness to child abuse in Hampton Roads.

Email newsletter signup

April is the Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads is hosting the 27th annual “Celebrity Night” to raise awareness and money for the fight against child abuse.

“This has been a great event, because we have lots of support,” said Teresa Villorente, volunteer coordinator for the event. “And it helps us do two things; help raise awareness, because April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so this kind of kicks off the month; and then it helps us to raise funds.”

Villorente added that the goal for this year is $25,000, and Celebrity Night is the organization’s main fundraiser of the year.

Ten different restaurants from across Hampton Roads have volunteered their locations to host celebrity waiters to come in and serve patrons.

This year, Pisces in Downtown Suffolk is participating, along with Norfolk’s Azalea Inn, Baker’s Crust Ghent, Big Easy, 4,5,6 Fish, Chesapeake’s Baker’s Crust Greenbriar, Portsmouth’s Roger Brown’s Restaurant and Sports Bar and Virginia Beach’s Havana-Nimmo, Il Giardino’s Ristorante and The Route 58 Delicatessen.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at all locations.

Here in Suffolk, some of the celebrity waiters include Elvis, Mayor Linda Johnson, Clerk of Court Randy Carter, City Councilman Charles Parr, Virginia Arts Festival’s Richard Spano, WNSB Hot 91’s Doug “Teddybear” Perry and Duman Automotive’s Mike Duman.

Other celebrities at various sites include Merritt, WVEC television personality LaSalle Blanks, Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot and Old Dominion Univeristy Women’s Basketball’s star Nikita Dawkins.

All celebrity tips and a percentage of restaurant receipts will be donated to Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads.

Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that works with community, state, and national groups to raise awareness about child abuse prevention.

For more information about the event or the organization, visit www.ucantbeatkids.org.