The 15th Annual Bids for Kids Dinner & Auction, held Saturday (May 2) at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., generated the best turnout to date, according to Michilah Grimes, director of development and special events for the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen.
The event is driven by the RV industry, championed by Elkhart-based supplier Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) and CEO Jason Lippert. Grimes expressed deep appreciation for the more than 700 people in attendance as well as the event’s presenting sponsors: LCI, Consolidated Metals Inc., Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Furrion, Genesis Products, Welch Packaging Group and Wildman Business Group.
“It’s so humbling the way the RV industry and the local business community come together to support the Boys & Girls Club,” said Grimes. “We have 1,100 kids who come through our doors annually, and without this event and their support, I don’t know how we would come up with the funds to give these kids a safe place where they matter.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Goshen has an average of 360-plus kids coming in daily for after-school snacks, hot evening meals, tutoring and supervised activities. Some are from families employed at RV firms while many more aren’t directly connected to any business or industrial sector.
Grimes said the auction accounts for 75% of the club’s operating budget. Proceeds will be used for ongoing and future programs, she explained, as well as going toward a capital campaign to expand the center’s kitchen and learning center, which are “woefully inadequate to handle the amount of current use,” Grimes said.
Approximately 56 live auction and 100 silent auction items were sold off by professional fundraising auctioneer Neil Saffer, while area sports personality Vince Turner served as master of ceremonies. Two celebrities, former Notre Dame football players Jerome “The Bus” Bettis and Rick Mirer, were also on hand and figured in prominently during the live auction portion of the evening.
Three different bidders won a round of golf with Bettis at the Golf Club of Atlanta, while one couple won a trip to California’s Napa Valley for dinner with Mirer at his Mirror Wine Club vineyards.
Bettis also helped secure a surprise auction item – dinner for eight at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in South Bend with former Irish football coach Lou Holtz. A second surprise item added at the last minute was a trip for four people to South Africa that included daily meals and game drives.
Other live auction items of note, several of which were sold two or three times, included:
“¢ “Design a Date with a Private Jet,” a gift from John Hull and Brian Hull of Aircraft Charter Services.
“¢ A trip for two to the People’s Choice Awards next year in Los Angeles.
“¢ “Sun, Surf, Hoop” package, which was a trip for two to Hawaii to watch the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team play in the 31st Annual Maui Invitational.
“¢ Four tickets in the third row for an upcoming Taylor Swift concert at Soldier Field in Chicago.