Many have played the game Clue, but on Thursday night, attendees experienced the mystery game come to life in comical fashion. A cast of colorful suspects and intrigued investigators gathered at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton for Jacob’s Ladder’s 3rd Annual Murder Mystery Extravaganza fundraiser.
Every year, the interactive event brings the Chicago entertainment group “The Dinner Detectives” to Chesterton, along with a four course meal, in the name of a great cause. Liz Mayo, executive assistant of Jacob’s Ladder, said the event has only grown in popularity over the years.
“We really get a lot of people interested in this event,” Mayo said. “It’s definitely a unique experience, the players do a great job, and you can dress up in costume for Halloween, so that adds to the whimsical feel of the night.”
Dinner began with a “murder victim” staggering through the country club to a tape outline where he collapsed, followed by two loose-cannon “detectives” who animatedly declare a lock-down until the “killer” is found. The detective duo went through the evening interviewing attendees and creating a line-up of suspicious characters, as well as generally having fun with the audience. Every table was given some clues, including: threatening letters, mysterious emails, suspicious news articles and obituaries and worked together to single out the criminal.
Attendee Jessica Davis was prompted to lead a spontaneous yoga exercise during the show when she told the detectives she was a yoga instructor.
“It’s such a cool way to get everyone involved,” Davis said. “It was unexpected. I was a little nervous, but it ended up being a lot of fun.”
All proceeds from the event went towards funding Jacob's Ladder’s mission, which is providing comprehensive therapy and supplemental care to special needs children, as well as those born with developmental delays. Jacob’s Ladder offers therapy and supplemental care for children with down syndrome, spina bifida, autism, and other illnesses.
Mariann Frigo, executive director of Jacob’s Ladder, said this is the organization’s only fundraiser of the year and the resources are greatly needed. She said every $25 fundraised during the event will provide a child with therapy.
“We are the only non-for-profit pediatric center in the area,” Frigo said. “Kids come from seven counties to get help here.”
Frigo said Jacob’s Ladder serves 600 children per week, and the center collects less than half of what they bill their clients.
“This gives them valuable therapy that will help them conquer milestones in their lives,” Frigo said. “It helps them function at a much higher level in school or at family functions. Whether they have sensory overload issues or have a condition that makes it hard for them to get around, this is huge for their futures.”
An estimated 120 people registered to attend, raising about $7,800 in ticket sales alone. Laura Crohan, clinical coordinator for Jacob’s Ladder, said the event is a great way to spread the word about what Jacob’s Ladder does.
“As a non-for-profit, we very much so rely on donations,” Crohan said. “The more donations we get, the more therapy we can provide, which means more kids we can help.”
Mary Martinez, co-founder of Hannah’s Hope Playground, said she has a very personal reason to support Jacob’s Ladder because of her daughter, Hannah, who had a prenatal stroke, which lead to severe brain damage.
“A lot of their therapists worked with Hannah when she was alive,” Martinez said. “Jacob’s Ladder will always hold a special place in my heart.”
For Ginger Leopoldo, cohost of The Dinner Detectives, this event has become a beloved tradition for the group.
“I think many of us are so delighted and honored to be part of such an organization that provides service to children and families in the area,” Leopoldo said.
To learn more about Jacob’s Ladder or donate to their cause, visit www.jacobskids.org or call 219-764-4888.