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Charity speed dating event set for Feb. 21

By Staff
Kim West
Ashley Morrow is hoping the third time's the charm for Cupid For A Cure, a speed dating event for ages 21 and up set for Feb. 21 at the Webster Hotel &Suites in Sheffield.
Morrow, a former Russellville resident whose dad still operates a medical practice in Phil Campbell, started the event in 2007 to raise money for the American Cancer Society and provide a way for Shoals singles to meet new friends and potential dates.
"Cupid For A Cure is a charitable speed dating event," Morrow said. "The idea came up three years ago as a way to raise money for the American Cancer Society, and it runs almost the same way you see speed dating on TV."
"The girls sit on side of the table, and the guys sit on the other side. We give them 3 minutes to ask questions, and they're encouraged to ask ones that are important to them.
The hotel's ballroom doors will open at 6 p.m. for pre-event mingling, and the dating starts at 7 p.m. There is also an after-party planned at Louie Louie's Martini Bar, which is located inside Webster.
Organizers have added age groups to this year's event at the request of past participants. The event drew 50 singles in 2007 and nearly 150 people last year.
"We have age groups for 21-30, 25-35, 35-45, 45-55 and 55 and up," Morrow said. "You'll go on a date with everyone in your age group and then there's an after party where you can meet people from other age groups."
Tickets, which are priced at $20 and available only at www.cupidforacure.com, include admission to the speed dating and after-party, food and a goody bag. There will also be a cash bar available.
"I'm excited for the event to come, even though it's such a labor of love," Morrow said. "I go to black tie-events, and it's hard for me to afford them sometimes. What's great about Cupid For A Cure is that we're tapping that demographic that can afford a $20 ticket and make a difference.
"We're raising awareness you can't put a dollar sign on, and I think most people want to help or give back but don't know how or what avenue to take. This is a different way for people to give back, and if we can do something fun and also raise awareness, then it's a no-brainer to do this (every year)."
During its first two years, Cupid For A Cure has done more than benefit cancer research and set up dozens of matches – the event has also produced two relationships that resulted in marriages.
In 2007, Morrow's boss, Randy Gist, chief executive officer of a hospice company, and Katina, a Brooks Elementary School kindergarten teacher, met at the inaugural event and married later that year in St. Lucia. Last year's event produced the marriage of the Davenport, who walked down the aisle six months after their first date. Richard, a Wise Alloys worker, and Sherry, a labor delivery nurse at ECM Hospital.
"We've had a couple get married every year, and it's taken a life of it's own," Morrow said. "It's pretty humbling as an event planner because I never thought people would get married form this – I thought maybe someone would meet and fall in love."
This year's Cupid For A Cure attracted four major sponsors – Bethesda Cancer Centers, Cherokee Design, Tan City, Tom Jones Financial and Wellspring Advertising.
"We had very generous sponsors this year that have given much of their time, money and energy," Morrow said. "This would not have been possible without them, and were very lucky this year because we have five total sponsors, and they all came in at our highest sponsorship level."
Morrow said she realized speed dating can intimidating, but she said the event, which will be staffed by 30 volunteers along with security, is designed to create a positive atmosphere and make participants feel comfortable.
"We go to great lengths to make sure people are comfortable, and my volunteers are handpicked by me," she said. "They understand you're going to be nervous so they're going to talk to people and help them relax. We really try to make sure it's a positive atmosphere, and that's there's no negativity.
"If you're not coming to have fun and have a good time and meet people, then this is not an event for you because we're looking for hopeful and positive people who want to meet new friends and maybe fall in love."