News-Press Arts & Entertainment Writer Joins SalusCare Comedy Night

News-Press Arts and Entertainment Reporter Charles Runnells has joined the celebrity comic line-up for “Laughter Is the Best Medicine Comedy Night July 22 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.
Runnells, who has taken an acting class and performed in “A Tuna Christmas” at the Cultural Park Theatre, will join five other local celebrities as well as two nationally recognized professional comedians at the third annual Comedy Night, benefitting SalusCare, Inc., the region’s leading provider of treatment for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.
Professional comedian Michael Palascak returns for the third time and will serve as emcee for the evening as well as perform his stand-up comedy routine. Fellow professional comedian Pat McGann will perform the finale.
“We are thrilled to have not just one – but two professional comedians join us for our signature event. This is in addition to our six celebrity comics who will be competing for the title of ‘Lee County’s Best Comic,’” said SalusCare Development Committee Chair Sue Ackert.
Tickets are now on sale for the event and may be purchased at www.saluscarecomedynight.org. VIP tickets are $175 each and include reception with the comedians, heavy hors-d’oeuvres, beer/wine and show. General admission tickets are $125 each for dessert, beer/wine and show only. The VIP reception begins at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Bill Smith Appliances, Lee Health and Park Royal Behavioral Health Services are the Headliner sponsors of the event. Monologue sponsors are Accent Business Products, Assuage Luxury Spa/Dr. Stephen Prendiville, Genoa Healthcare, Leading Edge Benefit Advisors, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Lykes Insurance, Millennium Physician Group and Vicki and Richard Pitbladdo. The Grand Finale Comic Sponsor is the Marieb College of Health & Human Services at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The News-Press Media Group is the media sponsor.
Other sponsorships are available from $500 to $10,000.
Each of the six local celebrities will perform a five-minute stand-up routine for event attendees who will “vote” for the best comedic performance with their dollars. The local celebrities who will exchange laughs for votes, in addition to Runnells, are:
● Chris Hansen, Lee Health Board Member and Park Royal Hospital
● Dayna Harpster, WGCU Expressions Editor
● Frank Mann, Lee County Commissioner
● Cole Peacock, RC Peacock Consulting
● Will Prather, Broadway Palm owner
Attendees will have the opportunity to “vote” for “Lee County’s Best Comic” by placing cash or checks in containers labeled for each comic.
Palascak delighted television audiences in 2015 as one of five finalists on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He also has performed at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and was the winner of HBO’s Lucky 21 Stand-up Contest.
McGann is a stand-up comedian and television host from Chicago. He created and hosted the Emmy nominated television show The Chicago Stand Up Project. He has been invited to The Great American Comedy Festival, Laugh Fest, The Lucille Ball Comedy Festival and has been heard on the nationally syndicated The Bob & Tom Show, as well as seen on AXS-TV’s Gotham Comedy Live.
Funds raised at the event will be used to provide outpatient psychiatry and therapy to children and adolescents in our area whose families can least afford it. One in 10 children has serious mental health problems severe enough to impair how they function at home, in school, or in the community, according to the National Center for Children & Poverty at Columbia University. Left untreated, mental illnesses can lead to more difficult to treat illnesses and to the development of co-occurring disorders.
For more information about sponsorships and “Laughter Is the Best Medicine Comedy Night,” contact Todd Cordisco at (239) 791-1575 or visit www.saluscarecomedynight.org .

About SalusCare, Inc.
SalusCare, Inc., is the largest, most comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program in Southwest Florida, serving 16,000 people per year of all ages from seven locations in Lee County. The non-profit organization offers crisis stabilization, detoxification, outpatient and residential treatment as well as an Employee Assistance Program for about 50 area companies. The majority of programs are accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
SalusCare services are not free. Fees are charged on a sliding scale, based on family income. In many cases, private insurance is accepted. SalusCare is a United Way partner agency.

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