If you happen to know that Coca Cola was originally green, bees have five eyes or other seemingly useless stuff, you may want to sign up for the 15th annual Trivia Night to benefit the nonprofit Tazewell County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Up to 50 teams of eight will compete for prizes beginning at 6:45 p.m. April 28 at the Par-A-Dice Hotel in East Peoria. The registration fee of $280 per team includes hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar will be available. Registration deadline is April 19.
“This is probably one of the more enjoyable fundraisers I have ever participated in over the years. If someone has never been to it, they should come out and have fun,” said Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz, who helped establish the Tazewell County CAC about 30 years ago and who competes every year with a team from his office.
Teams are encouraged to dress in costume, though it’s not required. A traveling five-foot tall trophy will go to the team with the best costumes. The winning trivia team will receive a set of engraved mugs, Jimmy Johns gift cards and a supply of Smarties candy.
“Our Friends of the Tazewell County CAC started this fundraiser 15 years ago at a hotel in Morton. It started out small, and it just kind of grew every year since then,” said CAC Director Sarah Wrhel.
Located at 341 Buena Vista in Pekin, the Tazewell County Children’s Advocacy Center offers a home-like setting where children in suspected sexual abuse and severe physical abuse cases can be interviewed and receive crisis counseling.
“Before we had a CAC, the child would be subjected to multiple interviews and sometimes in very non-friendly environments,” Umholtz said. “They might be interviewed first at a police station, then at a courthouse office by a prosecutor and perhaps by a defense attorney. The CAC is a home-like environment where the child is interviewed by a professionally trained person so we don’t further traumatize the victim.”
Wrhel said interviews are audio and video recorded and watched live by the various investigating authorities, so the child only has to tell the story once.
With a full-time staff of three and a part-time prevention educator, the Tazewell County CAC has satellite offices in Woodford and Mason counties. The center also has two contractual therapists.
“In a typical year we see about 225 kids in all three counties,” Wrhel said. Cases have been increasing since the passage of Erin’s Law in 2013 that requires all public schools to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.
“This year from January through (March 31), we’ve already had 93 cases, so we have a huge increase in numbers right now,” Wrhel said. “If our case numbers keep staying like this, we might have to eventually think about getting another contractual therapist.”
The Tazewell County CAC is funded mostly through grants, which is why the Trivia Night fundraiser is so important, Wrhel added.
“The bulk of our funding is from state and federal grants, and we also get a really small amount from the fees and fines legislation and some funding from the United Way,” she said, noting that state grants have been slow in coming due to the ongoing state budget crisis. “Our Trivia Night helps offset costs, particularly our counseling costs, that we can’t get covered through grants.”
Melissa Baer Adams, president of the CAC Friends Board, has been working nonstop to organize the Trivia Night but said the importance can’t be overstated.
“The CAC is a resource to families who are going through something that no family should have to go through,” she said. “We (on the Friends Board) don’t work with the children, but we work on behalf of the children. We’d love to be out of business. But until the abuse stops, we’ll ensure the CAC has the funds to keep its doors open to help each child in need.”
The event will also feature a silent and live auction. Auction items include park hopper passes to Disney World, jewelry, furniture, a whiskey tour at JK Williams Distillery, a wine tasting tour at Mackinaw Valley Vineyard and Cubs and Cardinal baseball tickets.
Local radio personality Randy Rundle of Mix 106.9 has co-hosted the event since it began. “The event has turned into the biggest team trivia event of the year due to the dedicated CAC staff and volunteers who make sure the night is filled with fun and good-natured competition while always keeping the purpose of the night in mind,” he said.
For more information or to register, visit the CAC website at www.tazewellcac.org or call (309) 347-6001. Donations to the center may also be made on the website.