By Terry Duffy
As we all know, Niagara Falls has become an area hotbed for exciting games of chance. Over the past several years, a number of casinos have sprung up on both sides of the border and Las Vegas-style experiences are now the norm for many.
This month, residents of Buffalo-Niagara and the lower River Region will have the occasion to enjoy that same Vegas experience and help out a worthy local organization that goes that step beyond to help out others.
The It Happened to Alexa Foundation, a Lewiston-based charity founded to assist victims of rape and sexual assault throughout the challenging legal process, invites the community to its second "Raising the Stakes Gala" benefit. From 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Sheraton at the Falls Hotel, visitors will be able to partake in an exciting Las Vegas-style evening complete with games of chance - blackjack, roulette, poker, craps, pick-a-card, a prize wheel and more.
A crowd in excess of 150 attended the foundation's inaugural Gala at the Falls Sheraton in 2016 - an event the Alexa Foundation labeled a "huge success."
With the help of event sponsors, Alexa organizers and scores of volunteers, the first Raising the Stakes Gala, which followed the foundation's "Great Contraption Race" in the lower Niagara of last summer, served up the thrills of Vegas-style gambling and proved a wonderful social experience for visitors.
"We had a wonderful first annual Raising the Stakes Gala on Oct. 1, 2016. We were truly humbled by the outpouring of support from our community and supporters," said Alexa Foundation organizers.
They invite you to again experience the thrills of winning at this year's Raising the Stakes Gala, where for a price of $125 per person, visitors can partake in an open bar, bountiful hors d'oeuvres, great games of chance and a complimentary $25 playing chip to get you started.
Winning attendees will be able to select from a host of prizes contained in the fantasy casino's gift shop. Think trips, housewares, home décor, tools, and bottles of wine, golfing gear, tickets, gift certificates and more.
All of this could be yours from an enjoyable evening spent at this year's Alexa Foundation's Raising the Stakes Gala.
Best of all, you would be assisting the Alexa Foundation on its continuing efforts of assisting victims and their families through the legal quagmires that tend to follow the trauma of rape and sexual abuse.
Founded in 2003, the It Happened to Alexa Foundation is a small, non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate the barriers that prevent victims of rape and sexual assault from seeking justice. The foundation was created by Lewiston residents Thomas and Stacey Branchini to honor the courage of their daughter, Alexa, who survived a traumatic rape by a stranger who broke into her dormitory during the second week of her freshman year of college.
"We provide financial, emotional and advocacy assistance to the victims at time of the trial," reads its mission statement in part. "The support of family and friends is key to bringing a strong survivor into the courtroom. The foundation does this by providing funds for transportation and lodging to a family member or friend to be present throughout the trial for support. Having these important people attend the criminal trial to support their loved one has shown a dramatic increase in conviction rates.
"But most importantly, it means no victim is ever alone."
Tickets for the Alexa Foundation's Raising the Stakes Gala are now on sale. The event takes place in the ballroom of Sheraton at the Falls and promises to be a unique casino experience. Overnight guest accommodations are available and cocktail attire is requested.
For more information, call the It Happened to Alexa Foundation at 716-754-9105.