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Oaklawn's virtual benefit auction surpasses goal for purchase of medical equipment

MARSHALL – Oaklawn’s volunteers and staffers are celebrating the success of their 32nd annual Benefit Auction, which raised enough money to purchase two new Dräger medical ventilators for the hospital. 

“We were able to pass our goal of $100,000, raising $100,500 over the course of the event,” said Jenna Ellis, Oaklawn’s development manager, adding that the amount was the highest net revenue in recent auction history. 

“This allows us to purchase two new Drager ventilators along with many of the necessary accessories to provide breathing support for our patients.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our community and all who donated so that we could receive additional Drager ventilators this year,” said Jeannie VanKampen, director of cardiopulmonary and sleep for Oaklawn. 

“Last year, we cared for more than 100 patients requiring ventilatory support,” VanKampen added. “Having these new multifunctional units will allow us to continue to provide high-quality care to patients requiring respiratory support before, during and after intubation.”

An additional, emotional result exists beyond the positive impact the ventilators have on patients, VanKampen said.

“There is a great impact on our respiratory therapists to see that our community stands behind us and supports us, as they have in this benefit auction, and we thank all who donated,” she said. 

The health-care organization’s “Feelin’ Lucky” auction – a response to the global coronavirus pandemic – kept participants safe and healthy because it was held online for the second year in a row.

Jennifer Huff of Homer and Bill DeSmet of Marshall won prizes during the event’s two raffles, sponsored by BluFish Consulting of Marshall and the Marshall Community Credit Union, said Jenna Ellis, Oaklawn’s development manager. More than 1,200 raffle tickets were sold, Ellis said.

For nine days ending March 25, online bidders competed for hundreds of items donated to the virtual auction, including trips, event and show tickets, memorabilia, specialty products, services, and gift certificates. 

To encourage participation and donations, all entry fees were waived this year, rendering all videos, Facebook postings and other online content available for free to anyone with internet access. 

More 300 people supported the event in some fashion, and more than 1,000 bids were submitted during the event’s silent auction, Ellis said. 

“We cannot thank all our donors, community members, volunteers, and sponsors enough,” 

Ellis said. “Because of them, we are able to provide the best equipment for some of our most vulnerable patients.” 

Videos of events and offerings made during the auction remain available for viewing at   

Those with questions about the event may contact Ellis at (269) 789-7494 or 

“We cannot thank all of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers enough for all they put into this event,” Ellis said. “We at Oaklawn are the lucky ones to have the support of such a generous community.”

Over the years, Oaklawn’s annual auctions have raised more than $2 million to provide patient assistance and purchase clinical equipment for direct patient care.