Karen Jackson, For The Baltimore Sun
June 8, 2013
Kate Blakey, Valerie Warburton and Lew Blakey attended Joey's Purple Ball.
Of the more than 200 people gathered at Calvert Hall College High School for Joey's Purple Ball, there wasn't a single guest who wished there wasn't a reason to be there. But, there also wasn't a single guest who would have missed it.
The ball was for Joey's Fund, which works with the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism to provide grants to families with autistic children. The event was put together by old friends and colleagues of Baltimore County native Bob Gay and Howard County native Michele Gay. The Gays started the fund in memory of their autistic daughter Josephine (Joey), 7, who lost her life in Dec. 14th Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"When I heard about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I wanted to do more than write a check. ... I wanted [the Gays] to walk into a room [filled] with people who loved them; Calvert Hall alum, friends, friends of friends who wanted to be part of something meaningful. ... It's an evening to honor Joey's life and to honor the family," said Lauren Esakoff, event chair.
The Gays had traveled from their new home in Massachusetts to be there.
"I'm a bit blown away. I'm seeing people I haven't seen in about 25 years; that it was important enough to them to make sure they came," said Michele Gay.
"People reached out to me that I hadn't heard from in 30 years, and just wanted to help in some way," her husband added. "I'm really overwhelmed with the outpouring of support."
Both agreed the party reflected the spirit of their daughter, who loved the Baltimore Ravens and the color purple, which guests were encouraged to wear. A number of local restaurants and caterers had donated food and drink. There were items like a Ravens team-signed XLVII Super Bowl football offered in an auction. And a band was there to add to the scene.
"Everybody's as passionate about our daughter as we are. [They] wanted to find a way to capture who she is, which is joy and happiness and celebration. So, this is just perfect for her," said Michele Gay. "This is home."