WARNER ROBINS -- Times are tough, but it doesnt seem to be impacting support for the Museum of Aviation.
More than 1,000 people turned out Saturday for the Museum of Aviation Foundation Auction and Raffle and Taste of Local Cuisine. By the time the event started, 1,100 raffle tickets had been sold for a chance to win a new car or $30,000. That had already equaled the number of tickets sold last year.
Mike Ford of Macon won the grand prize and has seven days to decide if he wants the cash or a car. Melanie Chandler of Byron won $3,000, and Five Star Automotive won $1,000.
Attendees also had a chance to bid on over 400 items in a silent auction, as well as about 30 items in a live auction. They also were able to sample food of about 30 local restaurants, bakeries and caterers.
Museum supporters say its their second largest fundraiser, with only the annual golf tournament generating more revenue.
June Lowe, executive vice president of the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said the event is especially important this year because of Air Force cutbacks. The museum lost six staff members that had been funded by the Air Force.
This is just important to keep the doors open, she said. The museum is the public show place for Robins Air Force Base.
Pat Bartness, president of the foundation, estimated the museum would net a profit of over $100,000 from the event. He said its especially important to the education programs the museum offers, noting 58,000 students participated in the programs last year.
Its a tough economic time for everybody and nonprofits in particular feel that, Bartness said as the crowd began to swell. But you look around right now and you can see the support in the community for this event.
Ron and Liz Dean of Kathleen had been meaning to come to the event for years, but something had always come up to stop them.
They were finally able to make it Saturday, and Liz Dean said she couldnt believe the number of items up for bids.
As they munched on samplings from the food area they had already determined they would be coming back.
It will be our first but it wont be our last, Ron Dean said.