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Hundreds gather for Oaklawn 'Rock 'n' Roll' benefit auction at FireKeepers

MARSHALL – Hundreds of area residents got into the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll on Saturday, March 4, and many left with great deals – all while boosting community health care.

“It’s just fantastic to see everybody getting together to help out in a tremendous show of support,” said Ryan Traver, who served as chair of the 27th annual Oaklawn Hospital Benefit Auction.

“The turnout was gratifying, and everybody who worked for so long on this did a terrific job,” Traver said.

The event at FireKeepers Casino Hotel also allowed the community to demonstrate its support for gold-standard health care, and the people who work daily to provide it to patients who come from throughout the region, said Traver, who is the owner and brand manager at BluFish Consulting.

“People throughout the area have given Oaklawn tremendous support through the auction over the years, and this year’s auction was no different,” said Richard Lindsey, who served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“It would be easy to go overboard in saying how grateful we are for all of the help we received from everyone – our sponsors, volunteers and donors – for this year’s effort,” said Lindsey, who is Oaklawn’s executive director of development and community/legislative affairs.

“FireKeepers also has been a spectacular partner in helping to make everything come together so well,” Lindsey said.

A live auction of items donated by area businesses and individuals was conducted by Brent Belcher and Kevin Belcher of Belcher Auction Company of Marshall.

Live musical entertainment was provided by Chameleon, featuring Chris Bocanegra.

The night’s top raffle winners were Mindy and Chris Munden, who won $3,000 worth of electronic equipment from Kalamazoo-based Farrell Audio and Video, and JW Townsend, also of Marshall, who won a Sony Alpha mirrorless digital camera donated by Lansing-based HBC Specialized Contracting. The couple own Hemmingsen Drug Store in Marshall.

A high point of the live auction occurred when event co-chair Mike Beck joined forces with Dave Rozema – a member of the 1984 World Series winning Detroit Tigers team – to seeks bids for a four-day deep-sea fishing vacation package off the coast of southern Florida.

“The top bid for the package came in at $10,000 and – because the highest bidders’ bids were so generous – Mike and Dave opted to sell a second package to the second-highest bidder if they matched the first winner’s winning price,” Traver said.

The packages were donated by the Beck and Rozema families as well as HBC Specialized Contracting. Beck, a longtime Oaklawn supporter, is president of the Lansing-based company.

The event’s organizers extended gratitude to dozens of sponsors and supportive “angels,” including Miller Canfield; Schroeder, DeGraw, PLLC; Jim and Laura Dominique; Hospital Network Ventures LLC; Lincoln Financial Group; Alliance HNI LLC; Anderson’s Albion Ethanol LLC; Eaton Corp.; the Kathrine Lee Brutsche Memorial Fund; the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance; and McDonald’s. In-kind donations were provided by Best Buy, BluFish Consulting LLC, auctioneers Brent and Kevin Belcher and HBC Specialized Contracting.

The annual auction has raised more than $1.5 million for the hospital since the event’s inception in 1991, allowing Oaklawn to purchase clinical equipment and provide health-care services to its patients throughout the communities it serves.

“It usually takes about a week to get all the expenses tallied and know what the net figure comes to, but we know we were very successful – and everyone had a great time,” Traver said.

“It takes a lot of very hard work by several dozen people to make this happen each year,” he said. “And the contribution that the auction has made is immense, by helping to uphold quality health care for patients throughout the communities Oaklawn serves.