Auctioneer Don Raffan remembers the first Kalamalka Rotary Dream Auction in Vernon in 1984.
As he told the capacity crowd at the 2019 event Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Prestige Vernon Lodge ballrooms, Raffan did a solo act and auctioned off about, oh, eight items for bid.
Since that 1984 evening, the event has grown considerably and has helped to raise more than $4 million for local charities and organizations.
A record $340,000 was raised Saturday.
“I feel proud and humbled by the impact this one evening has on som many members of our community,” said Kal Rotary president Carmen Larsen. “The impact could be measured in many ways: the numbers of dollars raised, the numbers of organizations funded, the number of local and international individuals whose lives are a little bit better tomorrow than they are today.”
Raffan had his son, Brody, helping him Saturday and the pair auctioned off more than 50 items live, and got the audience to open their pocketbooks.
In just over an hour, the Raffans helped raise $183,300 with the largest item going for $25,000 to the Bannister GM table, who outbid others for the Join The Jet Set package which includes heading to destination with five-to-seven friends aboard the Kal Tire executive jet. The prize also came with a $1,500 cash card for meals, beverages and accommodation.
The official total from Saturday’s event included money raised from a silent auction, bucket draw items, balloon pop and pick of the litter ticket raffle.
The Showcase Charity, Kal Rotary’s Starfish Backpack Program, also benefitted from Saturday’s Dream Auction.
Don Raffan was helped by a pair of young girls in raising money for the Starfish Backpack Program, where the club addresses food insecurity and hunger by providing a weekend knapsack filled with breakfasts, lunches and dinners and fresh fruit and snacks to local elementary school children in need.
The Showcase auction was introduced by 65 students from La Chorale de Beairsto, led by teacher Anita Baturin, who sang We Are the World to the guests. Raffan’s young helpers enthusiastically yelled “sold” after the longtime auctioneer helped attendees raised $64,250 for the program, equivalent to 111 backpacks.
The money will go in an endowment fund to provide long-term program funding.
The Raffan family, which included Don’s wife, Diana, and Brody’s partner, Chantal Cloutier, was honoured for their 35 years of service to the Dream Auction with a special plaque presentation made by committee chairperson Brian Reid.
Guests enjoyed a three-course meal provided by the Prestige Vernon Lodge and danced to the music of Feet First following the auction.