WARNER ROBINS - Every year Steve and Kristy Sylvester sit in the audience at the Museum of Aviations Auction, Raffle and Taste of Local Cuisine hoping it will finally be the time their name gets called for the grand prize.
And every year they have gone home disappointed, which is why when their name was called Saturday as the winner of a new vehicle or $30,000, they did not immediately react. Only after their street and the last four digits of Steves cell phone were called out did they leap to their feet.
I think we were in shock, said Kristy, a speech pathologist at Russell Elementary. We had come for so many years. We just thought maybe we were hearing things.
They had already decided that they wanted the cash and what they are going to do with it.
Put it toward our childrens education and maybe have a little fun, Kristy said.
Randall Evans of Warner Robins won the second-place prize of $3,000, and Chris Brown of Kathleen won the $1,000 third-place prize.
After more than a decade of chairing the auction, it might seem Steve Davison would want someone else to take over that responsibility for a while.
He never intended to do it for this long, he said as hundreds began to file into the event, but theres a reason why he sticks with it.
Its all about history and gratitude.
The Greatest Generation, the people who fought for our freedoms, is dying, he said. Who is left here to show what really happened? ... I feel strongly about the kids education piece of this, the living history.
The auction is the second largest fundraiser for the museum, behind only the golf tournament. Pat Bartness, president of the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said the auction actually is closing in on the golf tournament.
Davison said when he first served as chairman about 14 years ago -- he wasnt sure exactly how long it has been -- the auction raised $90,000. Last year it raised $274,000.
The highlight of the evening is the drawing for a choice between seven new vehicles or $30,000. Davison said about 80 percent of the winners take the cash.
As usual, the auction included an eclectic mix of items, including a chicken coop, rare whiskey, a skybox suite for Mercer University basketball, a trip to Wyoming and more. Bartness said auction organizers dont set out to see how many different types of items they can get each year.
It just works out that way, he said. Its what we have donated.
Another item was a Falcons jersey signed by former linebacker Buddy Curry. Curry, who is a friend of Davisons, was at the auction.
The evening also included a chance to sample foods from 33 area restaurants, all of which donated the fare for the event.
About 1,000 people were in attendance with about 1,300 tickets sold. A $100 ticket gets two people inside and a chance in the drawing.