When a Fundraiser is Not About the Food

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L-R: Event organizers Past President, Mary Cain, and Club Service Chair, Beth Thomas, happily celebrating another successful fundraiser.

One of the best things about being on the District Leadership Team is the food.  Most Rotary club meetings are structured around a meal.  Some of the best food you can find is at club fundraisers in our District.  I’m thinking Oyster Fests, Crab Feasts, Crab Festivals, Bull and Oyster Roasts, Barbecue, Lobster Fests, etc.  I know.  I know.  World Peace and all of that stuff is important.  But I’m talking some of the best food on the planet, right here in District 7620.

Last month the Rotary Club of Columbia-Patuxent, demonstrated, once again, that when it comes to having fun, they are a tough club to match.  Their fundraiser, A Night on the Riverboat, wasn’t as much about the food.  It was about gambling!   That’s right, the club offered guests extremely high stakes gambling where thousands of dollars were won and lost on a single roll of the dice or spin of the wheel.  (Not really…you may have heard that actual gambling is heavily regulated in the state of Md.  This is kind of “fake” gambling.  The kind that doesn’t get you arrested.)

Before I get into the details, I want you to know that it’s hard to choose the best video clips for a gambling post on RFA.  Hollywood has stepped up to the plate with some of the best possible scenes.  How to choose from the blizzard of James Bond casino scenes, or Matt Damon in Rounders which some say is the best poker movie ever made.  Then, of course, there’s Rainman, 21, Maverick, and even Road to El Dorado, all with scenes that come close to capturing the real world drama of Night on the Riverboat.  Here’s my first choice….James Bond (Sean Connery) in Diamonds are Forever, with the beautiful Lana Wood playing Plenty O’Tool.  There was a lot of this kind of action at the craps tables at Night on the Riverboat.

 

 

The secret of Night on the Riverboat is that the players don’t play for cash.  Instead they are given “house” money that can be exchanged for tickets used to win all kinds of prizes.  The more tickets you have the more chances you have to win the prize you want.  You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) how quickly the “play” money begins to feel like real money.  There was plenty of shouting at the tables as winners howled in triumph at winning thousands of …tickets.  Craps, blackjack, and roulette, were all paying out the fake bucks with plenty of action.  However, I’m guessing the cash wheels were the big money makers for the evening.  Combined with a variety of raffles, a silent auction, and other chances to win stuff during the evening, I’m hearing the total net raised was over $30,000.

Time for another classic scene.  I have to go with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise in this iconic scene from Rainman.  Do you remember this scene?

 

 

Not content to just have fun at the Night on the River Boat event, the Columbia Patuxent club also took time to honor the winner of  their Service Above Self award, Chaya Kaplan, of A-OK Mentoring and Tutoring.  The club awards $5,000 to the winner of the award each year who then donates the prize to a charity of their choice, subject to the approval of the Club’s Foundation Trustees.  Chaya reports that this year’s prize, donated to A-OK, will purchase science kits, children’s books, and other educational materials.  The size of this award is beginning to gain the attention of the do-gooder community in Howard County.  Great publicity for Rotary and the club.

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Chaya Kaplan, Executive Director of A-OK Mentoring and Tutoring, accepting her Service Above Self award with Club Trust Chair (Grand Dame Poobah) Joan Athen, looking on.

Here’s the good news.  Amazing night.  Lot’s of fun.  Over three hundred guests.  A large screen running all night showing highlights of the Rotary club and reminding everyone that this is a Rotary event.  Oh…and did I mention?  Preliminary reports are more than $30,000 raised.  Not bad.  On the other hand, fundraiser organizers were heard muttering that not enough attention was given to the awards, too many tickets were purchased by club members, and not enough extra cash was spent on gambling.  It seems our guests only wanted to “lose” the play money they were given at the beginning of the evening.  Never fear, the club, like many clubs in Rotary, is already figuring out how to “fine tune” the event so it will be even better next year.  Too much fun!

My observation is that clubs all over the District, and all around the world, are working hard to raise money in support of their local communities.  Let’s make sure everyone hears about it.  It really is a powerful effort when you think of the size of our combined efforts.  Care to share any tips you can think of for promoting your club’s fundraiser to the community?  You can comment below.

OK…I can’t help it.  One last clip.  Here’s Mel Gibson, and a cast of thousands, drawing for a royal straight flush in the movie, Maverick.  Only in Hollywood…

 

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District 7620 Membership Chair, and Col Patuxent member, Darrell Nevin, is his famous, ” don’t you trust me?” pose at the cash wheel. Notably, the cash in Darrell’s hand used to belong to me.

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One thought on “When a Fundraiser is Not About the Food

  1. Hi Ken,

    Entertaining and creative presentation of a great fubd raiser where Rotarians continue to give until it hurts. Always a pleasure reading your blog. Keep up the great work.

    Your Rotary Friend,
    Roger

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