On August 7, 2010 we had our most successful fundraiser yet at the Alexandria, MN Country Club. Tonya's dear friends from high school had spent six months oraganizing a cocktail hour and silent auction. On that night, all the pieces were in place.
We had the support and generosity of a wonderful community. People donated golf weekends, plasma TV's, tickets to the Minnesota Vikings, Twins and Gophers, wine valued at $350, original artwork, antiques and much, much more (we had over 100 donations).
We had a great band. Doc Engebretsen and his All-Stars provided jazz all night.
We had a friendly venue. The waitresses stayed until past midnight and the food was fabulous.
We had a ten minute presentation. Tonya talked about how, even after a diagnosis of breast cancer, there were things we could do to give us hope, while the DMD diagnosis left us searching in vain for anything to do. Steve talked about the researchers we've already supported and the others who we hope to support in the future. Both of us assured people that our foundation name, Hope for Gus, is about very real hope based on very real medical progress. Isabel thanked everyone for coming and read a poem she had written entitled "Him:"
Gus is still a boy
He's still got hopes
He's still a someone
- Isabel, 9 years old
We had a brief video which you can see here.
In the end, people responded - opening their hearts and their wallets and we more than doubled our expectations. People paid twice their bid for auction items, our donation box was full and lots of people left with Hope for Gus t-shirts. We raised $17,000 that night - every penny of it will go to research.
We've begun to understand how to create a successful fundraiser, and how to use that money to fund great research. In the end, we came away understanding that people really want to help eradicate this awful disease and to change the future for thousands of boys.
I e-mailed a friend the great news of the success of the fundraiser, and she said it perfectly when she responded, "that's a lot of hope..." She was right - it is.