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Plans begin for Oaklawn's 28th benefit auction

Plans begin for Oaklawn’s 28th benefit auction March 10, 2018, at FireKeepers

MARSHALL – Oaklawn Hospital’s 28th annual Benefit Auction will take place Saturday, March 10, 2018, in the ballroom of FireKeepers Casino Hotel.

“I love getting all the details together and meeting with the great people who volunteer for the auction each year – especially because we’re bringing all the fun back to FireKeepers,” said Ryan Traver, who is serving once again as the auction committee chair.

The event will take place for the fourth year at the casino’s hotel at 11177 E. Michigan Ave., between Marshall and Battle Creek.

“Every year, we put together a great team of ‘idea people,’ and they’ve already met to brainstorm,” Traver said. “Everybody’s excited about what’s in store.”

The event’s theme will be “superheroes,” and those who attend will be encouraged to arrive in outfits that portray their favorite super-powered character.

“It will be interesting to see how many Wonder Women and Iron Men will be out there, or whether the Justice League of America will square off against the Avengers,” said Traver, who is owner and brand manager at BluFish Consulting in Marshall. In past years, he has served as chair of three past auction events and as acquisitions organizer.

“We’re doing something different this year with a new online system, which will allow ticket-holders to do some things in advance of the event,” Traver said.

 “The new system is easier and friendlier to use, and will allow us to do things we haven’t done in the past,” Traver said. “People can look at the catalogue, select the items they want to bid on, set up their credit card information and get their bidder number – all in advance. In the past, these were things they had to do during registration.”

That online system, including item information as well as ticket purchases and donations, may be found at the website Using the promotional code REALHERO, ticket-buyers can get $10 off the standard $50 ticket fee until March 8.

“We hope to surpass what we brought in for Oaklawn last year,” Traver said, “so we’ve set a goal to reach $100,000. To do that, though, we need a lot of community support.” For the 2017 auction, area businesses and individuals contributed about 400 donations of cash and in-kind items.

“Over the years, the auction has generated well 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,” Traver 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. The traditional silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. and a live auction will begin at 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will include desserts, a strolling dinner and a cash bar.

Those wishing to donate, assist or ask a question about this year’s auction may contact Sara Jeffery in Oaklawn’s Development Department at (269) 789-3942 or Additional information about the event is available at

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 Brent Belcher, Kevin Belcher, Patti Bergstresser, Judy Byam, Amy Crisp, Caryn Drenth, Erica Eash, Steve Frisbee, Judy Jenkins, Michelle Johnson, Tim Marvil, Kim McLean, Velvet Potter, Karrie Prater, Carla Quimby, Corrie Rozell, Nate Rulewicz, Lisa Sands, Jen Stapleton, Ian Stewart, Nathan Stewart, Lindsey Thompson, Lowell Weaver III, Linda Waito, Jan Walton, Patty Williams and Shane Williamson. In addition to Sara Jeffery, Oaklawn staff members working with the committee are Sara Andrews, Bill DeSmet, Richard Lindsey and Amy Reimann.