One of my favorite things about writing this column is giving readers the opportunity to shed light on some incredible organizations and the hard work community members contribute to these worthwhile causes.

Mark your calendars for 6 p.m. April 27, when the College Is Real fundraiser happens at Round Hill Country Club with a Kentucky Derby-themed evening, and enjoy dinner, music, an auction and a raffle, complete with live ponies and Horse Racing Card Games.

The money raised will help kids from Richmond High School go to college. The program was started by Alamo resident Brad Blake about seven years ago, and there are more than 100 students involved in College is Real who can have their dream of attending college become a reality.

Students involved in the program will be at the Kentucky Derby event to share their inspiring stories and plans for the future with guests.

Event chair Lisa Blackwell was thrilled to hop on board College Is Real and has also mentored some of the students who have gone through the program. In an email, she explained how she got involved with the organization and how last year's Round Hill auction, with the TV program "Madmen" theme, raised more than $60,000 and gained 20 new mentors.

"Brad is a community leader of the highest degree. Although his professional life is extremely demanding, his top priority is the success and welfare of the students at Richmond," said Lisa.

She told me Brad is proud each time one of their students graduates from high school and heads off to college. Many are the first in their family to do so.

"Our first group of college graduates are coming out of the program and entering the work force this year. Brad is helping the Richmond community become a better place, one successful student at a time," added Lisa.

Committee Members for this year's event, including Lisa, are Alamo and Danville residents Brenda Dittmore, Buff Collins, Jodie Brescia, Arlene Upland, Laura Kapp, Christine Wentker, Susan Drummond and Mary Frandsen.

"I am extremely fortunate to have a committee of the most capable women who in their previous volunteer lives were active in PTA and grad night activities," said Lisa.

Brad also told me he is grateful for the hard work and dedication to the program from all the volunteers.

"The CIR committee is a high-powered 'A Team' that has created an event that is the major source of funds for CIR. Their efforts help all of our seniors make college financially feasible," said Brad.

To learn how Brad came to start College Is Real and program details, and for tickets to the event or to donate to CIR, visit, www.collegeisreal.org.

Meanwhile, don your best Kentucky Derby attire, which is optional of course, although prizes will be awarded for the best costume. Women may opt for a colorful dress or feminine suit with hats with flowers, feathers or bows. Men might want to dress the part with brightly colored or pastel suits and derby hats.

So plan on a fun evening with friends and community members, all while giving back to a great organization. Tickets are $100 until April 10, higher afterward. CRI is seeking event sponsors that will be recognized at the event, in the program and on the College Is Real website, where sponsorship forms can also be downloaded. Contact Lisa at lsblackwell@aol.com for details.

Contact Caterina Mellinger at aroundalamo@hotmail.com