"Man of the Year" fundraiser - fighting domestic violence, one laugh at a time
It’s not every day that professional businessmen of Haywood County choose to perform stand-up comedy routines or strut down the runway in fashionable attire in front of a room of 150 strangers, family members and friends.
Yet, at 6 p.m. Friday, July 12, five local businessmen will be doing exactly that at the first annual “Man of the Year” fundraiser, sponsored by REACH of Haywood County at Laurel Ridge Country Club.
REACH is a nonprofit dedicated to providing emergency services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or elder abuse throughout Haywood County.
To raise awareness for domestic violence, five local businessmen have been selected by REACH’s special event committee who have agreed to participate in a mock pageantry, vying for the chance to be crowned “Man of the Year” at the end of the evening.
The honored contestants include: Brian Cagle, vice president/managing broker of Beverly Hanks & Associates; Dan Fangmeyer, a businessman and avid farmer; Dr. Michael Hogan, a chiropractor at Blue Mountain Chiropractic Center; Preston Tinsley, of The Gateway Club of Waynesville; and Tim Freeman, Julia’s husband and operations manager at Haywood Builders Supply.
“Because domestic violence and sexual assault is so serious, we wanted to do something lighthearted that still combats domestic violence,” said Julia Freeman, executive director for REACH.
Domestic violence is best defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner, Julia said. This would include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, stalking and cyberstalking.
Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of incidents of domestic violence are perpetrated by men, a statistic which is closely mirrors the reality in Haywood County as well, Julia said.
“For this fundraiser, we wanted to focus on men who want to unify with us to combat domestic violence,” said Marilynn Obrig, chair of the special events committee for REACH. “There’s nobody that doesn’t know somebody who has experienced it.”
Throughout the evening, each contestant will participate in a question and answer session, a talent session and a style show. Lyn Donely, who has performed in many HART productions, will serve as master of ceremonies, providing intermission entertainment. For the Q-and-A, the men will be asked silly, personal questions as well as hard hitting questions related to the facts surrounding domestic violence and sexual abuse, which they have been studying prior to the event.
All men have also been tasked to raise money to benefit REACH by targeting family, friends and co-workers through direct solicitations, mailings and social media.
“Our community needs to come together with a no tolerance stance against domestic violence,” Hogan said. “If we can make that stance as a community, we will free our community of this terrible affliction. Domestic violence is a crime that needs to be stopped through empowering the victims with strong community support and resources.”
All of the money raised through the event will help fund services offered by REACH to benefit victims and survivors of abuse, including a 24-hour crisis help-line, emergency shelters, food and medications, legal assistance, counseling and support group resources.
At the end of the evening, the amount of money each contestant raised will be tallied with the results of a “People’s Choice Award” cast by event attendees to determine who will be crowned “Man of the Year.”
Contestants will keep the audience in stitches as they showcase their little known talent. From vaudeville acts to stand-up comedy routines involving alter egos, for now, the men have chosen to keep their talent routines vague to surprise audiences the night of the show. Fangmeyer said he will be performing a routine with his grandchildren that he calls “hip-hop with pop-pop.” And Cagle will perform “a musical selection with a small trio.”
Yet, what drives each of these respected businessmen to step out of their comfort zones and risk embarrassing themselves in front of their peers and co-workers is their passion for the organization they’re representing.
“I think domestic abuse is a big issue in a lot of communities,” Fangmeyer said, who owns recycling companies in Florida and Maryland and a summer home in Haywood County. “One of my family members was a victim of this kind of abuse.”
According to a statistical report issued by REACH, between 2011 and 2012, the nonprofit served 671 victims of domestic violence, nearly evenly split between adults and children, and159 victims of sexual assault.
“One of the myths about domestic violence and sexual assault is that it affects people of lesser means, but it really affects all socio-economic levels,” Julia said. “Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, it affects everyone.”
Haywood County has historically ranked higher in the state in reported incidents of domestic violence per capita than many counties, Julia said, most likely because of residents' awareness of resources, like REACH, to address the issue.
Yet, often times, instances of domestic violence and sexual assault go unnoticed or unreported.
“Growing up, my mom was a stay at home mom after serving as a combat nurse in WWII and my dad made a good living,” Tinsley said. “As a kid, I never saw the threat of violence or saw anger escalate. I’ve come to realize that I may have been in the minority.”
According to a REACH report, one in three women in the United States will experience intimate partner violence during her life.
“I’ve been in the ministry and I’ve seen lots of families and lots of problems arise,” said Cagle, who has served as a pastor at area churches intermittently since 1991. “I feel that love and acceptance should be at the core of our values.”
Not only do domestic violence and sexual assault cause negative repercussions for the individual, but it also leads to serious financial strain on society.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year for direct medical and mental health care services and lost productivity from paid work and household chores.
“All of us have the power to be an agent of change and have a responsibility to talk about serious issues like domestic violence,” Tim Freeman said. “We need to set examples by the lives we live.”
Want to go:
To purchase tickets for the event –
Tickets are $100 a person and includes a catered dinner and the show. There will be a cash bar.
Sponsorship tables are available for $1,200 to host eight guests with the remaining $400 endorsing one of the contestants.
Tickets may be purchased at the REACH Resale Store, 456 Hazelwood Ave., Waynesville or from any REACH of Haywood board member as well as by calling 456-7898. All profits will go to support the mission and services of REACH of Haywood.