A sweet event: Chocolate Fantasy Ball lauds McDonald House on 40th anniversary

Vonda Pruitt, Bridget Baltimore and Phi Ngo at Chocolate Fantasy Ball 2022, the fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas. The event was held April 9 in the Wally Allen Ballroom, Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock..(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette -- Helaine R. Williams)

"Chocolate will taste a little sweeter at Chocolate Fantasy Ball 2022, because we will be together celebrating the 40th birthday of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas!" trumpeted the Little Rock-based agency, which provides a "home away from home" for families with critically ill children in local hospitals.

And yes, many wanted to get in on the celebration -- especially as the ball was postponed from February. It was a sold-out event April 9 in the Wally Allen Ballroom of the Statehouse Convention Center with more than 850 attendees. After all, where else can one spend the pre-event reception nibbling every chocolate treat known to man -- served by pageant queens, no less -- and even sip chocotinis while perusing a plethora of silent-auction items?

Susie and Charles Morgan were event co-chairs and Craig O'Neill was master of ceremonies (yes, he's still telling that medical-marijuana joke) for a night during which RMHC honored the McDonald's ArkLaTx Co-op for 40 years of support. Eliecer Palacios, longtime owner-operator in Little Rock and a Ronald McDonald House board member, accepted the award on behalf of the co-op.

The program also included educating attendees about the role of the Ronald McDonald House and delving into its four decades of existence. A Share-a-Night feature garnered more generous donations. Also featured were a live auction and a raffle that involved keys given to buyers; the winning key opened a door to a diamond bracelet from Sissy's Log Cabin.

Guests carried chocolate treats home with them in generous-size to-go boxes. Some attendees went to a benefit after-party at nearby 109 & Co.

According to a RMHC social-media post, more than $720,000 was raised -- all of which goes to help Central Arkansas families.

-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams

 Gallery: Chocolate Fantasy Ball 2022