Benefit brings out local revelers, volunteers
Appeal Staff Writer
The scent of barbecue lingered just a few extra moments in the chalky air of a Carson Indian Summer weekend afternoon.
The sparkling wine corks popped and the band warmed up as more than 500 area residents gathered at the Pony Express Pavilion in Mills Park to participate in Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada’s biggest annual fundraiser Saturday.
Organizers of the 14th annual Kids Auction and World’s Greatest BBQ hoped this year’s event would raise more than $300,000 to help subsidize the Boys & Girls Club.
A lofty goal? Perhaps, said club director Hal Hansen, but one within range because of the 100-plus volunteers on hand.
“Those are the people you want to talk to,” he said. “Especially our board of directors. People find out how much they do and ask ‘how much do they get paid?’ The answer is, it’s all volunteer.”
Buzz Fitzpatrick, chairman of the board of directors, said the event itself is the culmination of eight months of planning.
“This is our special event,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re pretty much sold out this year – and even though we put on a great event with the barbecue and the music, we like to think people come for the good cause.”
Fitzpatrick’s sentiment was backed with anecdote from last year’s event, when country crooner Collin Raye, this year’s featured performer, had to pull out of the event the morning of because of an unexpected illness.
“The people still came and ate and bid and had a great time,” Fitzpatrick said. “We expect this year to be no different.”
For Reno resident and volunteer Jody Gunderman, an alumnus of the Boys and Girls Club, Bethesda, Maryland, and participant in the annual fundraiser on behalf of Harley Davidson for six years, helping run Saturday’s barbecue is a “highlight of my year.”
“I guess you could say I grew up with Boys and Girls Club, literally,” he said. “What I’ve come to realize, as an adult, is that (Boys and Girls Club) not only helps the individual, but can help bring families together.
“What little influence I have here, what little I can do – is really multiplied out in the effort the kids themselves put in and through the individual volunteer.”
As couples began to carry paper plates soaked heavy with tri-tip, baked beans and cole slaw back to assigned tables, the comfortable din of a friendly crowd conversing began to rise a hint above the pre-concert dinner music.
“We’re first-timers here,” said Reno resident Twila Lorenzetti, who, with her husband Greg, was eyeing bidding on a Napa wine shuttle during the silent auction. “This event is so well-organized from what we can see.
“It’s shaping up to be a good night.”
As the sun’s rays, once peeking through the pavilion’s rooftops, began to cheat out of the sky and behind the Sierra, a different pall of anticipation was cast amongst the revelers – almost time for the live auction.
“I just want to see the people fighting and bidding during the live auction,” said attendee Cath Handyside of Reno. “That’s going to be fun.”
• Andrew Pridgen can be reached at email@example.com or 811-1219.