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Children have a ball at annual charity event

Dancing, activities, handmade gowns mark county youth service bureau’s biggest fundraiser

DeKALB – When the doors of Northern Illinois University’s Altgeld Hall swung open for Phyllis Gooden’s grandson, Travis, he held onto his suit jacket and confidently walked in.

The doorman said to Travis, “Are you the royal family?” to which the 6-year-old responded, “Yes!” with his grandmother at his side.

It was a moment that made Travis feel special, Gooden said.

“He’s walking like he’s important, too,” Gooden said.

The fourth annual Royal Children’s Ball on Friday was DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The royally-themed event included a DJ, craft room, obstacle course, food, raffles, appearances by Cinderella and Snow White, DeKalb High School trumpeters and balloon art.

Keri Nelson, member of the bureau’s board of directors, said 550 tickets were sold in advance, the most since the event’s inception.

All proceeds benefitted DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau’s programs and services, which includes paying for therapists. The bureau raised more than $16,000 from advanced ticket sales and sponsorships, and that didn’t include walk-in ticket sales, Nelson said.

“We used to do everything in the ballroom, but now we’ve taken over the whole building,” Nelson said. “We have so many kids that come.”

Cortland resident Alexis Kwasniewski, 9, was one of those kids. Dressed in a white dress with a flower at her hip, Alexis said she felt like a princess. Employees of Stephen Alan Salon, 2030 Baron Drive, Sycamore, gave children stick-on tattoos as well as applying their make-up and fixing their hair. Alexis got a butterfly on the back of her palm.

It was her first time at Altgeld Hall.

“I want to explore,” Alexis said. “I want to see around the whole building.”

Sycamore resident Jake Meier was with his wife and two daughters. He danced with his 2-year-old daughter, Nora, and made magic wands with both daughters.

Meier said it was important for him as a father to be with his family.

“It’s fun to get out with the family and do something with the kids that’s not sitting in front of a television,” he said. “The girls are running around having fun.”

Paw Paw resident Carrie Ickes was in the ballroom with her 4-year-old daughter, Raegan.

Ickes, who has been to the event with Raegan all four years, said the ball is something Raegan talks about all week. The family recorded a video of last year’s event that Raegan watches, Ickes said.

“She keeps watching it saying, ‘When do we get to do that again?’” Ickes said.

“When we get home, she’ll ask, ‘When are we going again?’”

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