JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — One of the most kid-friendly events in the Highland Lakes needs help.
Organizers of the Children’s Day Celebration, which is Saturday, April 15, at Johnson Park, is short about $17,000 to put on this year’s event.
Currently, the board has about $8,000. The money is used for prize giveaways and T-shirts as well as food and mechanical rides.
The annual celebration is free for children.
Ely Banuet Rodriguez, founder and president of the celebration, is undergoing cancer treatments, which kept her from being able to completely focus on the 2017 event.
“My body simply can’t handle what it used to before cancer,” she said. “ … Although my heart is in the right place, my body demands my attention.”
The mechanical rides, which were added at the request of the older children attending the event, cost more than $9,000.
Rodriguez started the event 17 years ago when her children asked to go to a carnival. She told them they could, but they had to choose between purchasing tickets for rides or buying food; the family couldn’t afford both.
Her children’s disappointment left an impression on Rodriguez. That’s why the Children’s Day Celebration is free to kids, including games and food. The event also features booths with information on things such as proper hygiene, dental care, and more.
Families from across the Highland Lakes and beyond the borders of Burnet and Llano counties drive to Marble Falls each year to attend the celebration.
“It’s one of the largest nonprofit events for the Highland Lakes area,” Rodriguez said. “We want to educate and empower the community’s children.”
The number of attendees has increased significantly since the event started; so, too, has the number of volunteers, who bring their own grills to cook the food, man booths, load and unload equipment, and ensure the celebration goes off without a hitch.
Rodriguez said the event still needs volunteers who have a skill to demonstrate to the children attending such as health care workers, hairstylists, and first responders who are willing to show off their emergency response equipment.
“The success of the event depends on the volunteers,” Rodriguez said. “If we lack volunteers, there will be areas that will be struggling.”
The biggest need, however, is for someone to step in and chair the event.
“I need to take a break,” Rodriguez said. “I need to in order to get 100 percent recovered. Being the executive director takes a lot of energy. With doctors and feeling sick, I just don’t have the time the event requires.”
She said some close to her have suggested that perhaps it would be better to cancel this year’s event. She has refused.
“We’re not going to cancel because we don’t have the funds,” she said. “We’ll figure out a way to raise the money because it’s not fair (to the children if it is canceled).”
Contact Rodriguez at email@example.com or (512) 755-3504 to help or for more information.