bona vista

Attendees at last year’s Viva Las Vista test their luck.

Vivaaaaaaaaa Las Vegas! There’s a good chance at some point in your life you’ve heard that Elvis Presley song. If not, go to YouTube and look it up. You can thank me later when it’s stuck in your head for the rest of eternity.

What does that have to do with Bona Vista Programs? Well, we are hosting our 2nd Annual Viva Las Vista casino night event on Friday, March 9, at the Kokomo Country Club from 7 to 10 p.m. for those 21 years of age and over. Elvis won’t be there, but it will be much like being in Vegas in many other ways (and not like Vegas in some other ways).

One of the most important ways that it will be like Las Vegas is that we will have professional casino games being run by professional dealers. That’s right. You won’t find volunteers or Bona Vista employees dealing the games. You’ll find professional dealers in matching vests standing behind the tables to help you if you’re not familiar with a game and to encourage you to give it a try if you’re on the fence. These guys know their stuff.

Before last year’s event, I had never been to Las Vegas (I went a couple of months after the event, though). I had no clue what some of the games were that they brought to the event. The dealers were so patient with me and made me feel like they wanted me to win. It’s for charity, after all. They get paid the same whether I win or lose. They want to see you end the night with a ton of poker chips – and more than the 15 you get to start with because you purchased a ticket!

Speaking of the games, we will have Blackjack, Craps, Poker, Wheel of Fortune, Roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em, Over/Under, just to name a few. And they aren’t set up on card tables like you’d find if we were hosting this in my garage. These are big, legit gaming tables.

Another way it’s like Vegas is there will be food! Included in your ticket price, you will get to enjoy a pizza and breadstick buffet. In addition, our Bona Vista Bistro folks will have a table of desserts set up for you to enjoy. A cash bar will be available, if you’d like to partake, but it’s definitely optional. We’d be remiss not to have it, though, because… Vegas. So we will have some tables if you want to sit while you eat, or you can grab some grub and continue to gamble – to each their own.

Want to know how it won’t be like Vegas? There won’t be any cocktail waitresses. If you want something from the buffet or bar, unfortunately you’ll have to get it yourself (or find a friend who delivers to your seat at the table). We also don’t serve unlimited alcoholic beverages to those who are gambling. That’s just not our style – drink responsibly. Also, there will be no smoking inside our casino (AKA the Country Club). Oh, and one of the biggest ways it won’t be like Vegas, you won’t walk away with any cash money (only amazing prizes). Maybe you don’t when you go to Vegas anyway, so that’s not a big deal to you. Who am I to judge?

Again, this is a fund raiser, not a fund-giver-away. But, you will have the chance to win one of several raffle basket prizes. When I say raffle basket, though, I don’t mean your momma’s raffle basket. I’m talking a Char-Griller Traditional Charcoal Grill donated by Wal-Mart that comes with $100 gift certificate to White’s Meat Market as one raffle basket. Another will be good for the person looking to get out of town – a five-night stay in an exotic Mexican location courtesy of Deljeree Hall and Royal Class Travels. Those are just two examples. I don’t want to show my entire hand before the night of the event. What kind of gambler would I be if I did that?

So, how do we make money if you’re not playing for cash? It’s your ticket price. For $40 for an individual or $70 for a couple, you get to partake in casino games, food and fun all while supporting a good cause – the adults and children we serve on a daily basis. Whether you walk away with one of our prizes at the end of the night or not, you still won because we won by your donation of your ticket price. If you don’t have your ticket yet, you can go to, click on “Events” and then find Viva Las Vista. Or, you can stop by 1220 E. Laguna St. in Kokomo and pay for them in person.

We also couldn’t do this without our sponsors: Advanced Medical Imaging, Alliance Excavating, BMO Harris Bank, City of Firsts Community FCU, The DeHayes Group, Dr. Thomas Prather, Duke Energy, First Bank of Berne, JA Benefits, Liberty Financial, Monroe Construction, Ross Medical Education Center, STAR Leasing, Sycamore Financial Group, WWKI and Wyman Group (as of the time of me writing this).