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Name dropping, an overused and often inappropriate practice, sometimes has its place. Such seems to be the case for an upcoming event in Fulton.

Drop the name Elvis and, to paraphrase the old E.F. Hutton commercial, people usually stop and listen. Again this year the Moody Blues Charitable Foundation is effectively harnessing that name’s drawing power for a special event, but organizers are quick to point out that making use of Northeast Mississippi’s most famous native son’s notoriety is in no way self-serving.

Rather, the event is all about kids…helping kids.

The foundation, an arm of the local Moody Blues Elvis Fan Club, is sponsoring a dinner April 30 at Itawamba Agricultural High School to raise funds for needy students from the school and provide scholarship proceeds for a deserving IAHS senior.

Foundation founder and event organizer Lori Holland gave examples of how money from the last two years’ events has been used. “We have literally purchased groceries for kids who are in that kind of situation,” she said. “Anything that helps a needy student, we take care of it.”

Funds also have been used to help college students purchase books or send pupils to various school-related competitions.

The event has raised more than $24,000 over the past two years, all of which has gone to help needy youngsters in the area. Impressive.

The dinner is obviously a worthy event and one that, to be sure, has Elvis’ considerable footprint all over it. Headlining again this year is country music star Ronnie McDowell, who burst onto the scene in 1977 with “The King is Gone”, a beautifully haunting tribute to the late King of Rock and Roll. His ability to closely emulate Elvis’ powerful, rich sound made millions sit up and take notice.

Though he later provided vocals for a few Elvis-related projects, he parlayed his talent into a successful brand of his own, scoring numerous country hits in the 1980s.

Should be a fun event with McDowell in the house because, aside from his musical abilities, by all accounts he’s a genuinely nice guy.

Holland noted that McDowell was a smash with the crowd last year, so the decision to invite him back was a no-brainer. “He’s a great performer,” she said.

This year, too, McDowell’s recently-published autobiography “Bringing it to You Personally” will be available.

Also scheduled to appear at the Elvis Presley Charity Event Memorial Dinner is Cynthia Pepper, who co-starred with Elvis in “Kissing Cousins.” Her other credits include “My Three Sons,” “Wagon Train,” “Perry Mason” and “The Flying Nun.”

Elvis’ personal nurse and friend Marian Cocke also will be on hand, while Emmy-nominated producer Tom Brown will serve as emcee.

With such a blend of good food, quality entertainment, anecdotes from those who personally knew Elvis that are sure to bring a smile – with chances to win Elvis memorabilia thrown in – the charity dinner offers a little bit of everything.

Call IAHS for details. But hurry, tickets will probably go fast. In fact, Holland indicated that tickets are already moving at a pretty good clip.

With all the excitement over what’s bound to be a fun evening, it’s important to bring its purpose back into focus, and Holland did that nicely.

“We are trying to keep our eyes on the ball,” she said. “What we’re doing this for…the kids.”

Whether you’re an Elvis fan or not – and who isn’t? – this event is worth checking out, because unquestionably we’re all a fan of the kids.

Danny Smith is general manager of Journal, Inc. He can be reached at danny.smith@journalinc.com.

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