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Kristi Yamaguchi heads Tammy Lynn’s ‘Toast’

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By Todd Cohen

RALIGH, N.C. — Aiming to boost private giving to help offset the gap between rising costs and flat Medicaid reimbursements, the Tammy Lynn Center in Raleigh aims to raise $200,000 from its 22d annual Toast to the Triangle next month.

Honorary chair for the event, which will be held April 1 at the McKimmon Center at N.C. State University, is Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi.

Funds raised at the event, which grossed $175,000 last year and will feature food and wine from roughly 45 Triangle restaurants and wine sellers, support Tammy Lynn’s educational, residential and family programs for children and adults with special needs.

With an annual budget of $5.5 million, the Tammy Lynn Center raises roughly $1 million from private contributions and the remainder mainly from reimbursements from Medicaid and other insurers, says Maria Hernandez, director of development.

Founded in 1969, the nonprofit held its first Toast to the Triangle in 1986, raising $6,000.

Funds from the event, which brought in $100,000 for the first time in 1996, supported the organization’s building fund or endowment until 2002, when the Tammy Lynn Center started to use the funds for operations.

In addition to Toast to the Triangle, the nonprofit sponsors its annual Tammy Lynn Golf Classic, which last year raised over $50,000.

This year’s event will be held Oct. 29 at Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh.

The Tammy Lynn Center raises roughly $500,000 a year through an annual direct-mail campaign and personal solicitations, and another $150,000 through unrestricted grants.

And the nonprofit plans this fall to launch a new planned-giving program to develop deferred gifts involving assets other than cash through wills, estate plans and other strategies.

The organization also is waging a campaign to raise awareness about its work and the needs of people with special needs.

In the fiscal year ended last June 30, the organization served nearly 400 families through five programs.

On its campus, it provides residential services for 30 children and adults.

Also on its campus, in partnership with Wake County Schools, it provides specialized classroom education for children ages 3 to 22 with developmental disabilities.

And it provides supervised services in two residences it rents off its campus, including an apartment for four adults in Raleigh, and a home for four adults in Cary.

It also provides respite care for caregivers for 200 families with children or adults with developmental disabilities, and an early-intervention program for about 85 children from birth to age 3.

It provides those services with a staff of 125 full-time employees, down from 150 seven years ago, plus about 50 part-time and contract workers.

“With a smaller staff, we don’t have the opportunity to serve as many families in the community as we would hope to,” says Hernandez. “Achieving our goal at the Toast is paramount.”

Toast to the Triangle, expected to attract at least 1,300 people, the same number who attended last year, will feature awards for restaurants in six categories, such best entrée, appetizer, dessert and presentation.

Yamaguchi, who lives in Raleigh with her husband, Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Bret Hedican, and their children, founded the Always Dream Foundation in 1996.

The foundation, based in California, supports charities serving children.

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