Ready, Set, Gogh: Art Dash offered fun, food and a dash for art

Randy and Nancy Ocken of Polo look at a walnut and blue epoxy table, made by Kevin Deets, at the Art Dash, a fundraiser for Serenity Hospice & Home on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at River's Edge in Oregon. Nancy also donated art work to the event.

OREGON – Melanie Cozzi and Molly McNett had to do some friendly finagling after both their numbers were pulled in the same round at the Serenity Hospice and Home’s Art Dash fundraiser Wednesday.

The friends were seated at the same table at the start of the event’s third round when their numbers were two of the three “dashers” called at random, enabling them to dash for the art of their choosing.

Attendees could buy dasher tickets for $100 and spectator tickets for $50. Cozzi’s number was called first, and she promptly went to the dash starting line as McNett’s was called next. The two squared off with McNett greeting Cozzi with a mock fistfight to see who would get to go gather their first choice.

When the dashers were released, Cozzi sped to the south end of the venue, and McNett made a center run to a painting created by one of her former teachers at Oregon High School.

“We had our eye on the same thing, but we were able to work it all out,” McNett said.

“We did talk about it,” Cozzi said while laughing.

The fun competition was all part of the third annual Art Dash, a fundraiser for Serenity Hospice and Home, at River’s Edge Experience, 103 S. First St., Oregon

“The dasher tickets sold out in six weeks,” said Karen Virnoche, of Oregon, key organizer of the event. “We had 75 artists participating and 92 pieces of art this year. Every dasher went home with a one-of-a-kind piece of art to treasure.”

The evening started with an art preview from 6 to 7 p.m., when ticketholders determined what they wanted to dash for as they mingled with the artists while enjoying appetizers crafted by chefs Susan, Michael and Bryce Maddox.

“The event brings some amazing donated art from talented local residents and a fundraiser to benefit Serenity’s patients and their families,” said Rob Gieraltowski, Serenity’s marketing and development manager.

Seventy five artists contributed 92 items to this year’s event.

Serenity Hospice and Home is a not-for-profit, “free standing” organization founded in 1984.

According to its website: “Serenity stands on the belief that everyone deserves to experience dignity, respect and comfort at the end of life. This belief has guided us through the years of service, as we have had the privilege to support countless patients and their families through one of life’s most challenging journeys.”

The organization serves Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties, as well as the towns of Walnut and Ohio in Bureau County.

Serenity Home, just south of Oregon on state Route 2, was established and accepted its first patient in April 2009.

That facility offers patients and their families a homelike environment while providing the full complement of hospice’s comfort-oriented care and services, including pain and symptom management; 24-hour nursing care; assistance with tasks of daily living; visits from volunteers; spiritual and psychosocial counseling for patients and their loved ones; and bereavement care and support for surviving family members.

Upcoming fundraisers for the organization are:

• Pansies & Polka Dots Garden Luncheon Fundraiser, Saturday, May 11, Stronghold Brubaker Center, 1922 N. state Route 2, Oregon.

• Jonathon Knodle Memorial Golf Play Day, Saturday, June 15, PrairieView Golf Course, Byron.

• Memorial Butterfly Release, Saturday, June 29, Serenity Hospice & Home, 1658 S. state Route 2, Oregon.

For information, visit

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.