Our Make Believe Ball Story

By Deadra Richelle-Purifoy
As an employee of Briggs & Stratton for over ten years, I am extremely proud of the Company’s commitment to support the communities in which they operate. Briggs & Stratton’s contribution to communities through education, health and wellness, and civic participation encourages all employees to give back in some way. Thanks to my personal community involvement and my position in marketing at Briggs & Stratton, I was asked to represent the Company at First Stage’s Make Believe Ball. I was aware of First Stage’s reputation in the Milwaukee community for providing wonderful performances by the best and brightest talented youth so I was excited to support. I am also the proud aunt of the most incredible little girls, (Zaniyah age 4, Madison age 5, Zariah age 7, and Gigi age 13) so I thought this would be a great opportunity for what we dubbed Titi's (short for Auntie’s) Weekend. This was usually a weekend where we engaged in "girl stuff" like getting our nails & hair done, shopping, eating out at a fancy place and then having a slumber party. This was an opportunity to go into overdrive and add a BALL to the mix! We call ourselves "The Words’ Girls," which is our family surname.  

The evolution of our theme began with one of our co-workers, who upon learning that the ball theme was the Wizard of Oz (inspired by that year's production of THE WIZ) suggested we wear red sparkly shoes… and it took off from there. We found red Ladybug dresses with black dots for the U:BUG:ME themed ball. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY saw us donned in chocolate ball gowns.  Anecdotally, this was a particularly difficult year for us because my sister-in-law was saying her last goodbyes due to breast cancer. We are so fortunate that she was able to pick out the dress and shoes for her Madi one last time.  

The next year brought us a challenge. How would we "girly-fy" the theme based around JACKIE AND ME and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game?" Well, being the creative bunch we are, we wore blue and gold ball gowns to support our hometown team and had Brewers earrings to match. This was also the first year that the Make Believe Ball became a “movement” expanded to a full-blown Words' Girls' Weekend. Family members couldn't wait until their daughters got old enough to participate so that year we added a few more cousins, daughters, and nieces to the team.

We went out the night before to get our nails done and made it a Words' Girls' night that included 20 people at the nail salon (including those who weren't attending the ball). Afterwards, we went to dinner and had a slumber party. The next day was spent in the “beautification” process and by 5:30 p.m. we were ready!! Upon arrival, we posed for formal pictures at the bottom of the winding staircase with the professional photographer. The girls then enjoyed the art & crafts activities, the magician, the photo booth, and the Racing Sausages! We then had a wonderful dinner and ended up dancing the night away. Every year it is truly a magical evening!

I enjoyed the Make Believe Ball and believed in First Stage so much as an organization that I knew I wanted to do more to support their mission of “transforming lives through theater,”so I joined the First Stage Board of Directors. I am so proud to be a part of a group of people who truly care about our community and are not only providing entertainment but also educating through wonderful performances such as A MIDNIGHT CRY; helping our youth cope though Bully Ban Workshops; and providing outlets for growth and acceptance through the Next Steps program for children with Autism.

This year is First Stage’s 20th annual Make Believe Ball!  The theme is ANATOLE, inspired by First Stage's upcoming play based on the story of France’s bravest and most honorable mouse. Our nail & hair appointments are made, dinner reservations are made, our theme is set (although we can't divulge it until that night) and we're ready!

Come join us! C'est une fête!   (It's a party!) 
Find out more about First Stage and the 20th Annual Make Believe Ball, CLICK HERE.

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