In the movie, the “Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy’s long journey ended when she reached Emerald City so she could return to Kansas — much like the difficult journey those with debilitating illnesses with Parkinson’s take.

The Emerald Foundation was founded to connect those with Parkinson’s to hope and peace through art. J. Basil Dannebohm, chairman of the board of directors, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease while in his early 30s after five years of struggling to find answers for his symptoms.

“It’s emotional at times; it’s hard,” he said. “There are peaks and valleys, and you just want to get to that place, that state of mind where you are feeling relaxed, not necessarily cured, but with some sense of peace.

“We hope that Parkinson’s patients get to that good spot, recognizing our mission through the arts.”

The goal of the Emerald Foundation is to bring hope to those with Parkinson’s through the arts. Dannebohm said the dopamine-enhancing medications prescribed for Parkinson’s patients increases their desire to paint, draw and write.

“A lot of groups have walks and bike-a-thons,” he said. “My concept was to build an organization that promoted awareness through the arts. What the foundation seeks to do is to provide opportunity to engage in the arts for Parkinson’s disease patients.

“By supporting the Emerald Foundation, you are directly aiding in the therapy of that individual. The arts are providing a sense of healing, a sense of well-being for patients.”

The nonprofit foundation will host the black-tie and evening gown Emerald Ball at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at Schmidt-Bickle Training Center on the Fort Hays State University campus. Cost is $50 per ticket, which must be purchased in advance.

“We plan to make it the peak of elegance,” Dannebohm said. “The menu is delightful.”

Net proceeds will benefit the Emerald Foundation, Hays Area Children’s Center and the Davis Phinney Foundation. The gala will include a social, silent and live auctions, dinner and a dance. None of the items in the auction are valued at less than $100.

Additionally, two awards will be presented: the Lisa Reser Award for Outstanding Achievement and the Orville Eaton Award for Outstanding Service.

Dannebohm, along with Mirta M. Martin, president of Fort Hays State University, will serve as the honorary event hosts of the ball. Wichita television personality Sierra Scott will emcee the gala. Scott will be joined on stage by Jenn Bates, co-anchor of KWCH Eyewitness News This Morning.

Frankie Valens, who enjoyed hits such as “This Magic Moment” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” will perform during the event alongside Ron Neuman and the Diamonds Vocal Band. The Diamonds launched to fame in 1956 with their first hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.”

Some auction items benefitting Hays Area Children’s Center will be sold at the ball, said Kaley Conner, community relations coordinator. This includes decorative Christmas trees, vacation packages and fine art.

“Both of our events are raising money for different causes have a common thread of trying to help people with disabilities,” Conner said. “That’s a big part of what we do. One of our major programs is early intervention — free services to young kids with a developmental difficulty or delay.”

HACC and the foundation had scheduled large fundraising events for the same weekend. HACC was unable to find another weekend to reschedule, so the two groups teamed up. The Bright Lights for Little Tykes event also will be Nov. 21.

For tickets for Bright Lights for Little Tykes, call (785) 625-3257 or email

Tickets for the Emerald Ball can be purchased at