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Ultimate Tailgater raffle a highlight of sports-themed Oaklawn Benefit Auction

A playful, competitive spirit will be in full swing during the 24th Annual Oaklawn Hospital Benefit Auction.

“It’s going to be an extravaganza for the sports-minded, for fans of great food, for people looking for a great deal, and for anyone else just looking to have a great time,” said Ryan Traver, who is chairing the event. Catherine Yates of Chemical Bank is this year’s co-chair.

“We’re putting together a fantastic raffle package, for one thing,” he said. “It all centers on a Tailgater portable satellite antenna system, a signal receptor for DISH customers that brings in high-definition television reception anywhere in the 48 contiguous United States.

“It comes complete with an ultra-quiet Honda generator and a 32-inch JVC high-definition receiver with a built-in DVD player. That means you can watch whatever you like – including that live game – no matter where you go,” Traver said. “It’s easy to set up and automatically finds the right satellite for a proper signal.”

The raffle package was donated by HBC Contracting, a general and environmental contracting company based in Lansing.

“We have some other terrific deals in the works, too,” Traver said. “For example, Drew Stanton of the Arizona Cardinals football team has been helping us put together another donation that should have folks drooling.”

Stanton, a Michigan State University alum and current backup quarterback for the Cardinals, is donating two tickets to a home game for the Cardinals, along with hotel stay. The package would include access to the team walk-through at the University of Phoenix Stadium, said Traver, owner of BluFish Consulting of Marshall.

“What’s more, BluFish will donate a $400 Visa gift card for the winning bidder to use on flights or to use as spending money while in Arizona.”

Other donated sports-themed items include a Detroit Tigers 2012 World Series street banner as well as signed memorabilia from such sports figures as Troy Aikman, Marshall Faulk, Carlton Fisk, Tony Hawk, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Joe Montana, Cal Ripken Jr., John Smoltz and Dick Vitale.

The deadline for commitments on donations is Feb. 11, said co-chair Catherine Yates, adding that it’s important to have commitments in hand early.

Discounted tickets to the event will be available before March 1 at a cost of $40, she said. After that date, ticket costs will rise to $45.

The food will fit right in with the “March Madness” basketball theme, as will the entertainment. Several local eating establishments will be sharing their signature appetizers and “finger foods” with auction participants. Live basketball will be shown on giant TV screens, and participants can join in a variety of sports-themed games.

Hundreds of items already have been received from area businesses and individuals for the auction – including dinners, appliances, specialty products, services, gift certificates, trips, vacation packages and show tickets.

Information about the auction and its associated details – including a catalog of items being offered – is being updated online at

Anyone wishing to assist or ask a question about this year’s auction is asked to contact Theresa Shippell in Oaklawn’s Development Department at (269) 789-3942.