Local restaurants to be part of Fiesta Ball Week at UAB

By WILLIAM MARLOW / Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY  — Six local restaurants will offer special menus next month as part of Fiesta Ball Week, an annual fundraising event hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The event is being reintroduced after being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will span from July 17-24.

The festival is being organized by the Young Supporters Board of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

YSB President Rebecca Beers said the event has been completely reinvented in the wake of the pandemic and that this year the fundraiser will raise money for the university’s ongoing cancer research as well as support local restaurants, which have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

“The YSB is thrilled to partner with businesses and foundations in our community to put on a new and unique event that will support our hard-hit local restaurants while also raising money for research grants at the O’Neal Cancer Center,” she said.

In previous years, Beers said the event was held as an in-person celebration, but due to constraints of the pandemic was reorganized into a hybrid format with both an in-person restaurant promotion as well as an online auction.

Instead of attending an in-person gathering, event participants will have opportunities to buy a meal ticket, which they can redeem anytime between July 17-24.

Participating restaurants include Sol Y Luna, El ZunZún, Little Donkey, La Paz, Craft’s on Church Street and all eight Birmingham-area Taco Mama locations.

Pre-purchased tickets are required to participate in the restaurant portion of Fiesta Ball Week. Tickets are available now for purchase and sales will end Wednesday, July 14 at 11:59 p.m.

Proceeds from each ticket sale will benefit both the selected restaurant and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Beers described the fundraiser as a crucial avenue for the university’s ongoing research, and said that proceeds will specifically fund the Mary Ann Harvard Young Investigator Grants. These grants will help early-career scientists at the O’Neal Cancer Center jump-start their research programs.

“These grants will pay dividends in the future as our young investigators build on the discoveries and ideas that we fund and, ultimately, change the trajectory of cancer treatment,” Beers said.

This year will mark the 13th annual festival. In that time, Beers said the event has raised in total nearly a million dollars.

Additionally. Beers said the university would be also hosting an online auction this year, which in the past has directly benefited cancer patients and their families.

Proceeds have funded everything from treatment to travel expenses and most recently tablets for patients to use while receiving chemotherapy.

“The silent auction proceeds typically support our Patient and Family Services outreach, and the funds have been crucial in supporting cancer patients and their families,” she said.

Tickets are not required to participate in the Fiesta Ball Week online auction, which will feature a range of items such as a weekend vacation at Lake Martin and a round of golf for two at Pursell Farms. The auction will open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 17, and will close at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 24.

All eight of Taco Mama’s Birmingham store locations will participate in the upcoming event. The company said it was interested in participating in the event due to its established relationship with the university, and for the chance to have a positive impact on the community. According to a company spokesperson, a large number of the company’s team members are graduates or current students at the university.

“We are always looking for partnerships with engaging and energetic organizations and we enjoy the culture and enthusiasm that we have experienced from our Blazer friends and teammates,” a company spokesperson said. “If there’s ever an opportunity with UAB that we feel we can be of a positive impact on, we do our best to be a part of it.”

The company will be offering a $35 dollar-ticket promotion, which includes the restaurant’s Dip Trio appetizer, any entrée item and the option of either a margarita or fountain drink.

Guests may substitute a Steel City Pop for the margarita. For to go-orders, the company requests customers drink margaritas on site and then get any food to go.

They also request that you bring a printed version of the ticket to the restaurant to redeem it.