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Oaklawn's 29th benefit auction planning underway

Dec. 4, 2018

  Plans begin for Oaklawn’s 29th benefit auction March 9, 2019, at FireKeepers

MARSHALL – Oaklawn Hospital’s 29th annual Benefit Auction will take place Saturday, March 9, 2019, in the ballroom of FireKeepers Casino Hotel.

“Every year, it’s fun to bring together all the details and sit down with the wonderful volunteers who give so much of their time for the auction – especially because we’ll be bringing all the fun back to FireKeepers,” said Ryan Traver, who is auction committee chair for the fifth year, with support from Nate Stewart as vice chair for the second year.

The event will take place at the casino’s hotel at 11177 E. Michigan Ave., between Marshall and Battle Creek, where the auction has been held since 2015.

“Out of the gate, our job is to get all of the ‘idea people’ together and assemble a great team,” Traver said. “We started brainstorming early about this year’s theme and what needs to happen to shape an exciting event. Everybody’s enthusiastic about it and looking forward to the challenge.”

The event’s theme – “Mitten State Pride” – was selected after a poll was conducted on Facebook, said Traver, who is owner and brand manager at BluFish in Marshall.

“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 in attendance,” Traver said. “If the game is during the auction, we’ll play it on the big screen so attendees don’t have FOMO (fear of missing out).”

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

“It’s important for us 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.”

 Each year, auction organizers look at ways to improve the experience for those who attend, Traver said.

“Our online bidding system has proved to be easier and friendlier to use, and it lets us to do some things we haven’t done in past years,” Traver said. “For example, we made it possible last year for people to consult the auction catalogue, pick the items they wanted to bid on, set up their credit card information and get their bidder number – all in advance. Many people appreciated that, so we’ll be doing it again this year.”

That online system, including item information as well as ticket purchases and donations, may be found at the website one.bidpal.net/oaklawnauction. Using the promotional code 10OFF, ticket-buyers can get $10 off the standard $50 ticket fee until March 1.

“As always we hope to surpass what we brought in for Oaklawn last year,” Traver said, “and we’ve set our goal to reach $100,000 in the hope we can do even better. To do that, though, we need a lot of community support.”

For the 2018 auction, area businesses and individuals contributed 231 in-kind items valued at more than $73,000. In addition, more than $23,000 was raised in sponsorship funds and more than 400 tickets were purchased.

“Over the years, the auction has generated considerably more than a million dollars for Oaklawn, and that makes it possible for the hospital to purchase clinical equipment and provide even greater services to its patients throughout the communities it serves,” Stewart said.

“The auction committee is already at work, and will be scouring the community to find a wide variety of new and creative items to auction off,” he said.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the silent auction, and a live auction will begin at 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will include desserts, a strolling dinner and a cash bar.

Those who wish to donate, assist or ask a question about this year’s auction may contact Sara Jeffery in Oaklawn’s Development Department by calling (269) 789-3942 or emailing sjeffery@oaklawnhospital.com. Additional information about the event is available at oaklawnhospital.org/auction.

Participants may bid from their smartphones, iPads or one of the numerous electronic tablets that will be available around the ballroom.

Hundreds of items for the auction – including trips, event and show tickets, memorabilia, specialty products, services, and gift certificates – typically are gathered and catalogued for each year’s auction. Specific information about these and other items will be made available in the weeks leading up to the auction at the website address above.

Members of this year’s auction committee are Sara Andrews, Brent Belcher, Kevin Belcher, Patti Bergstresser, Judy Byam, Caryn Drenth, Erica Eash, Sara Jeffery, Judy Jenkins, Michelle Johnson, Cindy Lake, Richard Lindsey, Tim Marvil, Jen Putnam, Amy Reimann, Corrie Rozell, Lisa Sands, Jen Stapleton, Nate Stewart, Ryan Traver, Linda Waito, Jan Walton, Lowell Weaver and Patty Williams.