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Beline Obeid

Vegas in the D

Jody McVeigh
Community Editor
The Ahee family has offered the Capuchin Souper Summer Celebration for 34 years. It is now run by Edmund and Bettejean Ahee's grandchildren. Courtesy photo

July 02, 2015
The Entertainment Capital of the World is recreated in downtown Detroit during the 34th annual Capuchin Souper Summer Celebration Saturday, July 11 at Comerica Park, presented by edmund t. AHEE jewelers.

This year's event, "Viva Las Vegas," features all the wonder and amazement of Sin City with none of the guilt. Plus, proceeds benefit a community cause, not casino coffers.

Started in 1981 by Edmund and Bettejean Ahee and their seven children, the Capuchin Souper Summer Celebration raises funds for the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Each month, the kitchen provides 300,000 pounds of food, 30,000 articles of clothing and thousands of hours of personal support to those in need. According to Anthony Ahee, the kitchen was near and dear to his grandfather's heart.

"My grandfather grew up close to the soup kitchen," Ahee said. "He witnessed friends and people he knew being served there. He made a commitment to himself that if he ever became successful, he'd give back and help those in need."

The first event attracted more than 600 people and raised $10,000 for the ministry.

Now, the third generation of Ahees chair the event with the rest of the family.

To date, it has raised $6 million.

"It's grown not only in size of dollars, but in attendance and awareness," Ahee said, adding that 5,000 to 7,000 people attend the event each year. It's been held in a few locations, but the past several years has taken place at Comerica Park to accommodate the crowd.

"It's considered to be one of the largest free fundraisers," Ahee said.

There's no cost to attend the event, open to ages 21 and older, and attendees are encouraged to buy raffle tickets, which cost $1 each. Eight items valued at more than $30,000 will be raffled during the event.

The top raffle prize is a Ladies Rolex watch valued at $10,700. Other raffle items include pieces from Roberto Coin, Mikimoto, Ippolita, Ivanka Trump, David Yurman, Rolex and Tag Heuer.

"The event itself is pretty spectacular," Ahee said. "There's such a wide range of generations there supporting it. Some people have been going for years and years and continue to support the community. It's really been a win-win and our family is very grateful for that."

Following this year's "Viva Las Vegas" theme, the event includes Vegas-style lookalikes such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin strolling the park while tribute acts and DJs play music and patrons try their luck at a mini casino with Vegas-style games. Vegas showgirls, food and cocktails round out the night.

At 10:30 p.m., a fireworks display will light up the sky while Detroit Tigers mascot Paws draws the eight winning tickets. Winners will be announced after the display, but the party continues until 12:30 a.m. Additional surprises are planned throughout the night as well.

The entire event is underwritten by edmund t. AHEE jewelers, which takes on any financial cost incurred. Of the funds raised, some of the money will immediately benefit the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, while the rest of it will be put in the Edmund T. Ahee Endowment Fund for Hunger, which supports the Capuchins as well. The endowment is set up to perpetuate funds raised.

"My grandparents instilled in their children and in their grandchildren the need to give back to the community and those in need," Ahee said. "That's really instilled in our value system."

The longevity of the event and its success in the community are not overlooked either.

"In the commotion of life, sometimes people forget to be thankful," Ahee said. "It's great to take a moment to look after those less fortunate who need a little extra support."

Raffle tickets are available at the jeweler, 20139 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods, and on its website, ahee.com, as well as at the event. They may also be purchased with a credit card over the phone. People need not be present to win.

For more information, call (313) 886-4600.

Who it's for

Founded in 1929, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serves metro Detroit by providing food, clothing and human development programs to the community. In addition to preparing and serving up to 2,000 meals a day, it operates a shower program, emergency food pantry and a tutoring and art therapy program for children. It also distributes household items and clothing. Its Earthworks Urban Farm produces 6,000 pounds of produce from a 2.5-acre organic farm and educates the community about sustainable relationships between humans and the earth. The soup kitchen's On the Rise Bakery assists individuals re-entering society after bouts of incarceration or substance abuse. In addition, the soup kitchen's Jefferson House — a 12-bed residential treatment facility — assists indigent males seeking to reclaim their lives from addiction.

The Capuchin Soup Kitchen is a ministry of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, which is headquartered in Detroit and serves Capuchin ministries worldwide. It is funded primarily by donations, receiving no government assistance. Visit CSKDetroit.org.
Up for grabs

First prize: Ladies 31mm Rolex Datejust stainless steel and 18k yellow gold jubilee bracelet watch with mother-of-pearl dial. $10,700

Second prize: Ladies Ivanka Trump Signature Collection diamond and 18k white gold bangle bracelet. $6,000

Third prize: Ladies Roberto Coin Pois Moi Collection diamond and 18k yellow gold bangle bracelet. $3,900

Fourth prize: Ladies Ippolita diamond and hematite necklace in sterling silver. $2,795

Fifth prize: Ladies David Yurman Hampton blue topaz, black orchid and grey sapphire dangle earrings in sterling silver. $1,950

Sixth prize: Gents Tag Heuer Aquaracer bracelet watch in stainless steel with white dial. $1,900

Seventh prize: Ladies Mikimoto pearl and diamond pendant in 18k white gold. $1,750

Eighth prize: Gents mother-of-pearl and diamond cufflinks in 14k white and yellow gold. $1,100
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