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"Mitten State Pride" theme for Oaklawn Benefit Auction

MARSHALL – Hundreds of area residents are expected to be on hand Saturday, March 9, for an evening of fun and community support as Oaklawn’s 29th annual Benefit Auction gets under way in the ballroom of FireKeepers Casino Hotel.

FireKeepers is at 11177 E. Michigan Ave., between Marshall and Battle Creek, where the auction has been held since 2015. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with a silent auction, and a live auction will begin at 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will include desserts, a strolling dinner and a cash bar.

Many of the donated items being auctioned or raffled during the event will reflect Michigan products, services and events, in keeping with the event’s theme – “Mitten State Pride ” – said Ryan Traver, owner and brand manager at BluFish in Marshall. Traver is auction committee chair for the fifth year, with support from Nate Stewart as vice chair for the second year.

“We all love Michigan, and there are countless ways to express that,” Traver said. “We’re sure that we’ll see a lot of people decked out in interesting, Michigan-themed outfits and ‘flair’ that evening.

“March 9 is also when Michigan plays Michigan State in basketball, so I’m sure we’ll see some school spirit that night,” Traver said. “If the game happens during the auction, we’ll play it on the big screen so attendees don’t have FOMO [fear of missing out].”

The 2019 auction’s focus is to raise funds to purchase new equipment to benefit patients visiting Oaklawn’s expanding orthopedic and sports medicine services.

“It’s important to obtain upgraded equipment so patients visiting Oaklawn physicians can receive immediate service right there in the office,” said Richard Lindsey, Oaklawn’s executive director of legal and community affairs. “The auction will be an important way for us to achieve that.”

 “In keeping with our ‘Mitten’ theme, John Powers of Marshall has donated a set of two Michigan-crafted and Michigan-shaped Adirondack chairs that will belong to some lucky bidder by the end of the evening,” Traver said.

A new feature will be the “Diamond Wine Pull,” featuring an array of wine varieties, including many made in Michigan, Traver said. Each bottle being sold will be paired with a cubic zirconia gem and one winner will leave with a .69-carat round brilliant cut gem from Hodges Jewelers of Marshall, valued at $1,900.

After the live auction, drawings will be held among ticket-holders for three packages of items donated by BluFish, all geared toward potential bidders who love the Michigan outdoors.

One package includes an eight-person Columbia tent, two Field & Stream cots and a BluFish blanket, Traver said. A second includes two GCI outdoor rocker chairs, a 32” Field & Stream fire pit, a Yeti brand Hopper Flip Cooler and a BluFish RTIC-style tumbler, and a third includes two Pelican 80 NXT kayaks, two Field & Stream chute oars and a BluFish beach towel, Traver said.

The suspense will mount when 100 keys are sold in anticipation of another raffle – and only one of the keys will open a “treasure chest” containing a Yeti brand cooler, hat and T-shirt, all donated by Darling Ace Hardware; a $250 “Golden Ticket” donated by Oaklawn’s Development Department; a Woolrich blanket donated by Trailblazer’s; and a block of Yeti Ice donated by BluFish.

Hundreds of items for the auction – including trips, event and show tickets, memorabilia, specialty products, services and gift certificates – have been gathered and catalogued for each year’s auction, all donated by individuals and regional businesses.

For example, one new offering is a five-course meal for eight people, with a theme drawn from “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” the novel by Marshall native John Bellairs that became a film in 2018. The meal will be catered by Marshall-based Grand River Brewery and is being donated by John Burtka, Denise Burtka, Gregg Beeg and Dixie Gostola.

The dinner will take place at Marshall’s legendary Cronin House – the inspiration for the novel – courtesy of its owner, Jeff Hamilton. Each diner will receive a copy of the book and the movie. During the meal, a magic show will be presented under the auspices of the Marshall-based American Museum of Magic.

Also being offered as a package are four tickets in a suite at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for Cher’s “Here We Go Again” concert, donated by Michigan Office Solutions. The package includes food and drinks for the participants, as well as a $150 Visa gift card – donated by Dr. Matthew Christopher – for a hotel stay, limo service or show memorabilia.

Specific information about these and other items is available at oaklawnhospital.org/auction. Descriptions of many auction items already may be viewed on that site. Tickets for the event also may be purchased through the website at $40 per person until March 1 (using the code 10OFF for one ticket and the code 20OFF for two tickets), and at $50 per person after that date.

Participants may bid from their smartphones, iPads or one of the numerous electronic tablets that will be available around the ballroom. Participants also can purchase a bidder number remotely and bid at home or if they are out of town