After a record-breaking turnout with more than 2,000 in attendance, Puzzle Pieces raised $123,421 with its third Owensboro Lip Sync Battle on Saturday.
Sponsorships, team fundraising and ticket sales lead to Puzzle Pieces’ largest amount raised from the Lip Sync Battle event, beating the previous year’s total of $74,000.
Twelve teams performed in the 2020 show, which was sponsored by Kentucky Legend. The event kicked off with special performances by 14 News and Eyewitness News WEHT. The night was hosted by WBKR radio personalities Chad Benefield and Angel Welsh, along with special host and Puzzle Pieces’ star, Jeff Rhinerson.
Competitors included the following:
[Winners of each battle are noted in pink]
The Fuzz vs. the Fire
Owensboro Police Department
Owensboro Fire Department
War of the Wildcats
The Mirror Ball Brawl
Talk to Tyler
The Pop Star vs. The Rock Star
Summit Obstetrics & Gynecology
*Owensboro Lip Sync Battle Overall Champion
Each team was awarded a trophy, handcrafted by Puzzle Pieces’ clients. In fact, clients had a hand in making all event decorations.
“We want our event guests to see what they are supporting,” said Puzzle Pieces Executive Director Amanda Owen. “The clients love helping out with the Lip Sync battle each year. They have even created their own Lip Sync Battle at our campus.”
Of the 10 teams that fundraised for the event, the team that secured the most donations for Puzzles Pieces was Keller Williams Realtor Brandi Rone, with $20,426 raised. This top spot earned Rone the “Owensboro Lip Sync Battle’s Community Piece Award.”
“We could not do what we do without the support of the Owensboro community,” Owen said. “From the sponsors to the performers to the ticket buyers -- they each play a part in supporting our clients.”
Owen said there was only one word to describe this year’s show -- epic. Performers brought their A-game Saturday with pyrotechnics, choreography, elaborate costumes and props.
“I can’t believe the caliber of performances our teams pulled off,” Owen said. “But what impresses me most is that these teams not only put in hours of rehearsing, but they were committed to the Puzzle Pieces’ mission and raised a record total this year.”
Rone was a first time competitor to Owensboro Lip Sync Battle, but she was not new to fundraising for a cause. In the 2019 Dancing with Our Stars event in support of Boulware Mission, Rone raised over $30,000.
“When I was challenged to compete in the Lip Sync Battle by Tyler Shookman, who raised the most money last year, there was just no way I could turn it down,” Rone said.
Rone could not pinpoint one particular fundraising effort that put her over the top, but silent auctions, karaoke and live music events were all well-received.
“The whole community was super involved, that’s why it was so successful,” Rone said.
All teams used unique fundraising approaches, including the 11 nurses and staff members from Maternity Services, who brought in high-dollar items from regional businesses for auction. Diamond earrings, a Yeti cooler, a luxury facelift and bourbon were just some of the items the team secured in order to raise over $12,000 for Puzzle Pieces
“When I have something in mind, I go big or go home,” said Labor and Delivery Guest Relations Specialist Kristi Kirby. “With Puzzle Pieces having a new facility, I knew they needed the money more than ever.”
Kirby estimates that her team put in over 100 hours between rehearsing their routine and fundraising. Whitesville Elementary Principal Tricia Murphy said her team of teachers, lunchroom workers and school staff put in similar hours for the cause.
“For us, this was about showing the community the Whitesville way,” Murphy said. “We are a small school with a really big heart. We wanted to show our students you don’t have to have a big group to do big things.”
Murphy said it was her goal to incorporate fundraising efforts into programs already established at the school. The student-lead Lighthouse Team sold 650 Pura Vida bracelets, specially designed with Puzzle Pieces’ logo colors. They also held a Pennies for Puzzle Pieces change drive and held a Pickles and Popcorn concession stand at an assembly, which played off the two P’s in Puzzle Pieces.
“This was a fun way to sharpen our saws and let loose,” Murphy said of her team’s participation in the event. “Our profession can be draining, but when you’re practicing a fun routine, you’re not thinking about other stressors.”
Puzzle Pieces provides a day program, residential living, vocational services and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. When the nonprofit launched seven years ago it operated with a $284,000 budget. Puzzle Pieces now operates with a $3 million budget, serving 138 active clients on a weekly basis with 67 full- and part-time employees. There are still more than 30 people on the waiting list across all services.
In November 2019, Puzzle Pieces combined all of its divisions under one roof at a new location and under one name — Puzzle Pieces Campus. The new 4.5-acre campus is located at the former 27,000-square-foot Atmos Energy building at 2401 New Hartford Road. The facility will also be home to the campus’ newest division, the Owen Autism Center, named after Puzzle Pieces Executive Director Amanda Owen.