The Swordsman’s Ball: A fun event for a serious cause
by Dick Yarbrough
August 22, 2014 11:53 PM | 2033 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
I hope I am not a cheap date. I will find out soon enough when I am auctioned off at the annual Swordman’s Ball on Sept. 6 at the Renaissance Atlanta, Waverly Hotel at the Cobb Galleria, benefiting the American Cancer Society.

With the highest bid comes the opportunity to have lunch with me. If the price is right, you can watch me spill ketchup on my shirt while I tell you about my recent visit to the dentist. Who wouldn’t enjoy a fun time like that?

When my friend Babe Atkins-Byrne asked if I would participate in the auction, I said yes. Just as well. I learned a long time ago that telling her “no” is not an option. I did suggest that perhaps the auction would be more profitable if attendees could bid on not having to have lunch with me. I know a few people who would pay big bucks for that privilege.

In addition to lunch, the auction will also include a set of fancy note cards featuring my painting of dogwood blossoms, as well as an autographed copy of my book, “And They Call Them Games,” a firsthand account of the trials and tribulations of staging the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Georgia. Spoiler alert: Painting dogwood blossoms is a lot more fun than dealing with the International Olympic Committee and the screw-ups in the city of Atlanta.

This is the 41st Swordsman’s Ball and like fine wine, it gets better with age. Marietta attorney Justin O’Dell, who is co-chair of the event, along with his wife, Jenni, and Tom Heyer and his spouse, Wendy Bunch-Heyer, tells me last year’s event netted $107,000 and they are confident they will exceed that total this year. The money goes to fund treatment and research to cure cancer.

As Jenni O’Dell told the MDJ’s Sally Litchfield, “Almost everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.” Count me in that group. I am hopefully a cancer survivor myself. I say “hopefully” because even though I was deemed rid of the disease, cancer is an insidious enemy and there is always that unpleasant specter that it could one day find its way back. Cancer doesn’t play fair.

The purpose of the Swordsman’s Ball is indeed serious. But who says you can’t have a little fun, too? The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Dinner is at 7:30 and dancing and entertainment will run from 9 to 11.

In between all of this will be the auction. O’Dell says there will be some pretty nifty selections from which to choose. For example, how would you like to go to an Atlanta Braves game with former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield? You might even get the chance to ask him about the time Mike Tyson tried to bite off his ear. But be careful. He could be tired of being asked about it. It is best not to get a former heavyweight boxing champion cranky if you can help it.

Speaking of the Braves, you can bid on four tickets to a game next season with passes to watch batting practice on the field. Other auction opportunities consist of a Kennesaw State football helmet signed by Head Coach Brian Bohannon, a trip to Costa Rica, golf at Cobblestone Golf Club, specially-designed jewelry, fine dining and more other goodies than I have the space to mention.

O’Dell is particularly excited about the Wall of Wines. For $25, you get to select a bottle of wine through a blind draw. Some of the wines are valued as much as $125. All the wines are donated and all the money goes to the American Cancer Society.

Gracie Rice, with the American Cancer Society, says tickets are going fast. Individual tickets are $175 and a table for eight is $1,500. You can call her at (404) 949.6458 or visit

I get bemused (actually, there is another term I would prefer but this is a family newspaper) at a few elitists who feel it their bounden duty to inform me that my bullishness about Cobb County is due to my lack of worldliness. Kiss my grits. Most of them couldn’t tote my passport.

Cobb County is a great place to live and work and there is no better example of what makes us special than our tradition of giving back to the community through volunteering. Exhibit A is the Swordsman’s Ball and all the good people who donate their time and talent to help in the fight against cancer.

That is why I am glad to be included in the event and I look forward to an enjoyable lunch with some Great Americans. Just don’t serve me broccoli. There are some things I won’t do even for the most worthy of causes.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at or on Facebook at

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