Wow. Wow. Wow.You could use another three dozen Wows – or any other incredible adjective for that matter – and it still wouldn’t be enough to describe the staggering fundraising event that took place in Eastend over the weekend.
For the third straight year the local Crohn’s and Colitis fundraiser surpassed the $100,000 mark, although the 2014 celebration was even more mind-boggling than ever.
This year’s revenue exceed $150,000, bringing the event’s four-year total to an unimaginable $475,000.
“It was unreal,” said Cam VanSandt, a member of the organizing committee. “We can’t say enough about the incredible support we get. Our sponsors are incredibly generous and we can’t thank them enough for their generosity.”
VanSandt said that much of the credit for the event’s success goes to a large group of generous donors, participants and volunteers. Pat’s Off Road Transport was the fundraiser’s major sponsor again this year.
A small group of committee members who spend months organizing the event are another big reason the fundraiser has been so successful.
That group includes brothers Cam and Craig VanSandt as well as Jeff Humphrey, Dustin MacRae, Nick Bidaux, Mike Koolen and bookkeeper Trina Humphrey.
Money raised through the fundraiser benefit both the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) and local causes.
Over the previous three years the group has doled out almost a quarter of a million dollars to charities, including $120,000 to CCFC and a similar amount to local groups and programs. The Eastend Crohn’s and Colitis event is believed to be the second biggest fundraiser in Canada for the CCFC.
The local event is also easily the biggest annual fundraiser of any kind in this corner of the province.
After expenses this year, as much as $125,000 could be split between various groups.
Thirty participants took part in the skeet-shooting portion of the weekend celebration, which also included a banquet, auction and dance on Saturday.
The event officially got underway Saturday morning with competitors shooting 75 skeets each before being divided into three different flights for a final 25 skeet run on Sunday.
The competitors dealt with some cool overcast temperatures on Saturday, although the weather was comfortable throughout the weekend, highlighted by bright sunshine on Sunday
The championship flyte winner earned $1,000 while the other three flyte winners took home $500 each.
The winner of the championship flyte was Paul Kaupp. Kaupp finished on top of the competition after hitting 90 of his 100 targets. The first flyte was won by Clay Purdy, while Dave Bock captured the second flyte. Richard James won the third flyte.
Meanwhile, the evening of entertainment included a catered banquet, followed by a hilarious performance by comedian Ken Valgardson, who did a great job after being called in as a last minute replacement. Local band, the Buffalos of Groove, also did a great job entertaining the crowd.
Things got particularly crazy during the evening auction, where some 15 items fetched over $40,000. A bird hunt for instance, donated by the Eastend committee, brought in $5,200. A shotgun, won in a draw, was donated back to the event by the winner and ultimately sold for over $5,000. Flyte winners in the skeet shoot were donating their cash prizes back to the fundraiser and many participants stepped forward to offer unsolicited donations and support.
The quad raffle was won by Carmen and Devin Taylor.
“Overall, it was just an incredible weekend,” said VanSandt. “But this wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support of our sponsors and donors. They make it a success each year and we are extremely grateful for their involvement and participation.”
VanSandt says the organizing committee is committed to holding another fundraiser in 2015 – which will mark the fifth anniversary of the fundraiser. However, the volunteer group will assess whether to continue with the event beyond that on a year-to-year basis.
Beyond raising money, the committee also hopes their efforts raise awareness about Crohn’s and colitis.