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Last Thursday, April 20th, at the Indian Trail Club, records were broken, enthusiasm was catching and one of our families is headed to Disney. With over 345 guests in attendance EC’s Auction Gala ushered in a new era of online bidding before and during the Silent Auction. No more bid sheets thanks to our partnership with BidPal! Mobile bidding allowed even those not in attendance to bid for the benefit of the school, and Silent Auction sales exploded, doubling last year’s sales with fewer items on the block. This was just the start. There were 1,424 bids and all but one item sold!

With the event in full swing, attendees were able to visit the various stations including the new Golden Selection Table where they bought entry into the Heads/Tails game played during the Live Auction. Geraldine Gallagher, the happy winner, then selected 1 of 10 items off the Live Auction to take home. She and a guest are headed to see Hello Dolly!, starring Bette Midler in style, taking a private car provided by Vander Plaat Livery to and from the show.

Guests, while enjoying butlered hors d’oeuvres like sliders, dim sum tuna, bacon wrapped scallops and several succulent others, also were able to participate in the Wine Pull, where everyone was a winner. Participants matched their cork to a bottle on the wine wall and one guest pulled a special bottle to take home.  The Screamin’ Eagle cocktail was back but revamped entering buyers into a Disney Drawing. Maureen Cook and family will be headed to the Magic Kingdom as she was chosen by a representative from the William H. Connolly & Co, sponsor of the station, as the winner.

The Man Cave, sponsored by Jeff Vander Molen of Terrie O’Connor, featured our most frequently bid on and most successful items like the Bumper Pool Table, delivered to the winner’s property and the Stand Up Paddle Board, taken home that night!

MC, Rudi Gesch, gave out multiple door prizes to random attendees and photographer Jarvis of Rocksteady Images caught guests at the Step & Repeat sign. The Live Auction featured some fabulous returning items like a vacation to the U.S.V.I. at Kamabesu Villa, Myrtle Beach SC vacation home provided by the Bushoven family, Sanibel Island Hotel stay at Sundial Resort donated by EC Alum Donna Brown and Adirondack Lake Lodge donated by the Belanus family. Some brilliant new items like tickets to Soul2Soul Tour with Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, VIP Giants on-field game tickets donated by the Russo family and Private Dinner Party for 10 provided by Lorene Leentjes plus a dozen other packages had paddles in the air throughout the room. Bidders were frequent and furious clearly arriving with a plan as they bid against each other in good fun and for a great cause. Chris Ward, our event auctioneer from Bidforyourbenefit, oversaw all the activities and Live Auction.

As the night wound down, and the legion of volunteers took stock, the marketing department released our newest video which led into our first ever Fund A Need appeal. In 15 minutes, through mobile devices, over $15,000 was donated to the school by attendees, smashing previous donation appeals at every other Auction Gala in EC history. Generosity was abundant bringing tears to more than one guest’s eyes as the donation thermometer exploded, not once but three times passing the $5,000, $10,000 and then even the $15,000 mark!

While this year’s event committee worked extra to help roll out all these changes and The Foundation office researched how to implement them, it was obvious the collective effort was not in vain. Energy rose throughout the night and now in the afterglow of the event, talk is still a buzz for what might happen next year! Stay tuned happy supporters as the committee regroups and brainstorms for your next Auction Gala 2018!

If you’d like to join the committee please email

Take a look at the video from the auction and photos of the night.


David Visbeen

By: David Visbeen

David is the Executive Director of the Foundation for EC

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