Janet Ellis

Janet Ellis speaks with emcee Steve Willoughby during the “Steve and Janet Reunion” at a benefit June 13.

Unless you’ve been taking a break from the ol’ Branson Tri-Lakes News over the last few weeks, you already know “The Janet Ellis Benefit Spectacular: She Lost Her Hair, But Not Her Flair” show was held last week at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the event’s organizers, as well as the show’s “producer.” 

Me, a producer? That still makes me laugh.

Anyway, I wanted to write a little something to thank any and everyone who donated cash and/or prizes, bought tickets, gave any of their time or merely helped spread the word. The community support was unreal, and it just goes to show why this is one of the best places to live in the whole world.

There are so many people who need to be thanked for this event, I figured this was as good a spot as any to go ahead and do that. As you’ll see, this list is quite long, so if I forget to mention a certain business or name, I do apologize.

To Janet’s longtime radio partner and the show’s emcee Steve Willoughby, you were pitch perfect both on and off stage. This show meant as much to you as any of us, and that love and affection was evident in every aspect you had a hand in.

To Jennifer Gregory, you kept us all going and were more than willing to handle any task that was asked of you, no matter how big or small.

To the Branson Tri-Lakes News, especially  Sara Karnes for her photos, Shellie, Jennifer and Misti, who designed the ads and posters, Robert, who made sure said posters were printed, and for Cliff for allowing me to run ads, stories and mentions in our family of publications. I have never been prouder to be a part of this organization than I am today.

To Scott McCaulley and the whole crew at Ozark Mountain Media’s radio stations. You guys helped us spread the word both on and off the air.

To Sarah Hammons for gathering some of the best raffle prizes I’ve ever seen assembled for this type of event. You’re awesome.

To Hurts Donuts for your Janet Ellis-inspired donuts. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen a business do. 

To Don “Pete” Peterson, Mary Ann and everyone else at the Branson Senior Center for selling 50/50 tickets like no one else could.

To John Grisham, for donating his 50/50 winnings back to Janet. It still makes me smile just thinking about it.

To Paul and Ann Bluto, Randy Brashears, Tom Forster and the whole group from Branson’s Imax Entertainment Complex who catered this event. You guys are the best.

To Cortlandt Ingram and Orchard Audio Visual for the equipment we needed.

To Bill Lennon, you were always where you needed to be, whenever you needed to be there. You made this novice producer feel (and look) like a pro.

To the entertainers who took part in this spectacular show, Tony Orlando and his band, the Lennon Sisters (and Granddaughters), Bucky Heard, Clay Cooper, Billy Yates, Ryan Pelton, Mike Patrick, Jamie Haage,  Jon Drockelman, Mark McCauley, David Ragan, Luke Menard, Jackie Brown, Melody Hart, Michael W. Davis, Chad Cathell, “The Living Legend” Larry Allred, Rob Blackburn, Wayne Massengale, Gene Mulvaney, Kari Garrison, Erin Townsend and members of the Branson High School Theatre Department, you guys flat-out killed it, and made me look very, very good. This show was what it was because of each and every one of you.

I can’t thanks you guys enough for donating your time and talent. You were all spectacular.

To “The Golden Throat of the Ozarks” Mike Patrick. You sir, went above and beyond for this event. From producing TV and radio spots to donating a full vacation package for the raffle, mentioning this benefit on “Branson Country USA” and then performing, your contribution cannot be mentioned enough. The next time someone asks me why I like living in Branson, I’m just going to smile and say “People like Mike Patrick.”

None of this would be possible without Robb and Jeannie Horton, Jill Heppner, Mick Norwood, Aaron Ellsworth, Brad “Butch” Hanebrink, all the ushers, box office staff and techs at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. You guys have been such a big part of my life for more than 20 years, and didn’t hesitate to step up at any time. There is no way we could have done this in any other venue, and I am not only eternally grateful for you guys giving so much more than just the venue, but having faith in me to get the job done. I love you all more than you will ever know.

Also, huge thank yous to Mary Kellogg, Josh Grisham, Russell Willoughby, Pat Veach, Ken Bowling Construction, the folks at Branson Bank, Central Bank, Crystal Fish, Bob, Velva and the Grand Country Wild Bunch, Kristi Adams from the Mansion Theatre, the wonderful Susan Smith, Tanger Outlets, the Branson Airport, Lynn Berry, and each and every person who helped this event go off without a hitch. Much love for all you did, and continue to do for Janet.  

And finally, to Miss Janet Ellis herself. You spent the last 25 years making each and every person who crossed your path feel like a star, from business owners to international stars, and from Teachers of the Month to an Entertainment Writer at the newspaper who thought he needed to be on the radio. A lot.

You inspired every person listed above, and thousands more, to help out in some way, shape or form.

Your contribution and legacy to this community is sure to live on for decades, and I’m extremely happy just to be a footnote in that story.

We love you, Miss Janet, and I hope you got the evening you dreamed of, as well as the evening you deserved. Thank you for letting us love on you.

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