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During CIAA week, Ramona Holloway will "Party With A Purpose"
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Ramona Holloway, one half of 107.9 The Link radio team that is the "Matt & Ramona Show," talked with Qcitymetro about an event during CIAA week that benefit a local charity that provides assistance to homeless children. She also gave an update on her health since undergoing gastric bypass surgery two years ago. (Photo: Glenn H. Burkins)

As the 2014 CIAA basketball tournament draws near, much will be said and written about the parties and social events that each year accompany the five days of festivities. But this year, one after-party will be different, at least in its purpose.

On Friday, Feb. 28, BLT Steak in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel will host a “Party With a Purpose” to benefit A Child’s Place, a local charity that works to erase the impact on homelessness on Charlotte-area children and their education.

The event is the brainchild of husband-wife team Rudy and Natalie Brown and local radio host Ramona Holloway.

Over lunch at Savor on W. Morehead Street, Holloway talked with Qcitymetro.com about the event. She also gave an update on the progress she has made since undergoing gastric bypass surgery two years ago.

Q. So what is this “Party With a Purpose” event?

For a couple of years now, I have been on the board with Natalie Brown for A Child’s Place. She is another African American who, like me, has served a decade on the agency’s board. And one of the things we realized was that, when you take a look at a lot of the client children in the homeless community, there are a lot of those children who look like us. But when you take a look at the breakdown of the people who are supporting A Child’s Place, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the African American community. We felt we needed to step up and take care of our kids. Also, when we looked at what was happening in Charlotte during CIAA, there are promoters from all over the country coming here to entertain people, to give people an opportunity to get out of the house and have a good time around CIAA. But what were those parties doing for us? What were they doing for people in need who look like us in this community? And the answer we came up with was, not much. So Natalie and her husband Rudy and I got together and we got support from NBC Charlotte, (Radio Station) 105.3 and Charlotte Magazine and we said, “Will you help us throw a party that benefits, 100 percent, children in this community who need it?” If we can ... do the things necessary to keep these homeless kids in school and successful, they are going to be the future of CIAA, and this party can play a really small part in how that happens.

Q. So this will be the first year for this “Party With a Purpose?”

Yes. It’s the first year we’re trying it. BLT Steak, which is the restaurant inside of Ritz-Carlton, they are donating their space to us from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. So we’re hoping that we become the premier after-party of sorts for Friday night.

Q. So what can party-goers expect?

We’ll have Dirty Eight Productions. They’ll be providing our music. Signature cocktails from BLT Steak. We’ll have a photographer on hand with red carpet and VIP treatment for the event. And we have the most upscale location that the city has to offer inside the Ritz-Carlton, which I would say is the premier hotel in uptown.

Q. How much is admission?

Admission is $40 in advance. We’re going to charge $50 at the door. We realize that, during CIAA, we have people who open their doors and say, “We’re going to give you and opportunity to come in off the street for $100.” So we figured that, hopefully, because it’s for a good cause and we’re offering a great place to have a great time, that $50 at the door will work. And for people who want to support us upfront, we’re offering them a break and giving them a $40 ticket. We’re hoping that people will see an opportunity to not just have a good time but have a good time for a good cause.

Q. Aside from the party, what does A Child’s Place need? How can individuals get involved?

There are so many ways you can contribute. There are people who have stepped up to offer snack packs. When you take a look at the homeless kids in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools alone, there are over 5,000. Most of them are on free and reduced lunch. So what happens after you get a little breakfast at school and a little lunch at school? What happens after school when you don’t have a place to do your homework? What happens when you go home and you don’t have wifi to connect to? What A Child’s Place does is try to identify those gaps that keep a homeless child from being successful educationally and respond to those gaps.

Q. The last time we talked, you had recently come out of gastric bypass surgery. How’s your health?

It’s been two years. I’m still diabetes-free. People keep saying, “Stop loosing weight!” I stopped losing weight in 2012 – I think I lost my last pound in October of 2012 – and in January 2014 I celebrated two years of keeping the weight under control and keeping the diabetes in remission.

Related Story: Ramona's journey to better health

Since I had my surgery, two cousins have conquered their diabetes with the help of gastric bypass surgery, and another cousin is having her surgery in two weeks. So I feel like I took a bold step that isn’t just helping me but helping my family, because diabetes is our plague.

Q How has the surgery changed your life?

In a lot of ways. I feel that it has allowed me to set new boundaries relationship wise. It has helped me to set new boundaries health wise. I feel that, in a lot of ways because of my weigh, I settled for things that I don’t feel that I have to settle for anymore.

Q. When did you know this would be the right move for you?

I knew it was right for me when a friend’s brother in-law died of diabetes complications, and he was probably eight years older than me. I had tried everything – every diet, everything I read in the women’s magazine that told me was gonna work that week. I knew that when people were checking out and losing the quality of life that I was enjoying because of diabetes, I knew that if I didn’t do something different I was going to be just like them. I don’t have children. I don’t have someone who I felt is going to take care of me when I get older, so I felt I needed to do everything I could to stay in the game as long as I could, taking care of myself.

Q. Are you happier?

I feel like I am happier. I feel like I’m happier because I’ve taken control of a part of my life that was very much out of control. And I kinda like control.”

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