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Museum of Aviation auction to be the "event of the summer"

Want to take a chance on winning one of five cars and trucks or $20,000 in cash? Would you like to bid for a peaceful vacation in a home in Wyoming or an $8,000 Jacuzzi? Or would you bid for a VIP visit to an Indy 500 weekend next May in Indianapolis and a chance to hang out with the Panthers Team and driver Dan Wheldon, winner of the 2005 Indy 500?

Such things as dreams are made of will go to lucky raffle winners and highest auction bidders on Saturday, when the annual Auction, Raffle and Taste of Local Cuisine takes place at the Museum of Aviation.

“It has kind of become the social event of the summer for Middle Georgia,” said June G. Lowe, executive vice president for the Museum of Aviation Foundation, which hosts the event to benefit the museum. “People have a great time because you see friends from all over the area, plus there’s the excitement of the raffle and bidding on about 300 items in the auctions and enjoying delicious cuisine from about 35 restaurants from throughout Middle Georgia.”

Dress is business casual.

“It’s a night of fun,” said Stephanie Robinson, foundation marketing specialist.

This year marks the 24th time the foundation has sponsored the gala to benefit the museum, which turns 25 years old this year. More than 1,000 people attended last year’s gala, which grossed $240,000. The host committee hopes to achieve that financial goal again this year, despite the poor economy.

“Tickets are selling at the same rate as last year, even though we’ve had to raise the price of the ticket from $50 last year to $75,” Lowe said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. We have the most food vendors we’ve ever had, and that’s a great sign it’s going to be a great auction and a great sign for the economy here.”

TICKETS

People who buy their tickets in advance can have their tickets delivered to them along with their bid number. Paying at the door, however, is quick and easy, too, Lowe said, as accountants from Nichols Cauley and Associates register guests and give them their bid numbers on the spot. The accounting firm also handles billing and checkout at the end of the evening.

Once registered, the guests then proceed to the Century of Flight building to view and bid on some 30 to 45 items in the silent auction, which is followed by the dinner, all of which is donated by the restaurants, caterers or other food service providers.

More than 300 items, many of them of the big ticket variety, will be up for bids in the silent and live auctions. They include home furnishings, restaurant gift cards, furs, jewelry, tandem bikes, sports equipment, lawn and garden items, a scooter, many Step 2 toys, vacation packages such as a two-day stay at Disney World with tickets, weekend stays at Myrtle Beach, S.C., St. Simon’s Island or Wyoming, the Indy 500 package and much more.

New this year will be drawings during the live auction for giveaways of $100 each. Mystery gift certificates for $50 and $25 will be given away during the silent auction and can be used by the winners at the end of the evening to offset some of their ticket or bidding costs.

The lucky holder of the winning raffle ticket will be able to choose from a Chevy Malibu 1LT from Five Star Chevrolet Cadillac; a Dodge Journey from Bill Butler Chrysler Dodge Jeep; a Ford F-150 STX from Five Star Ford; a Nissan Altima from Five Star Nissan; a Toyota Tacoma SR5 from Lowe Toyota: or a cash prize of $20,000.

Second- and third-place raffle winners will receive $2,000 cash and $500 cash, respectively.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM

The foundation supports the museum in partnership with the Air Force. The foundation raises funds for building construction, exhibits and especially for the museum’s educational programs for students in grades K through 12.

Whether for one-day field trips during the school year or weeklong summer day camps, the museum through the foundation is able to provide age-appropriate activities teaching math, sciences, history and more.

Rick Drury, a foundation board member and raffle chairman for the gala, said he thinks the summer camp series is the museum’s primary contribution to the community’s youngsters.

“It exposes them to a lot of new things, opens up the world to them that there’s so much more out there than just what’s here in Middle Georgia,” Drury said.

Jodi Short, a first-grade teacher at Lake Joy Primary School in Houston County, said her son, Carson, who just completed first grade, has attended two of the museum’s summer camps and loved them.

Short added that the museum’s programs through the school year have been invaluable to her pupils on school field trips.

“With budgets like they are, we don’t get many field trips,” Short said, “but the museum staff aligns everything with exactly what we’re (teaching) at school. The children learn and they love it.”

Dawn Young, also a teacher and mother, said her children, Emily, 8, and Ryan, 6, have participated in five summer camps last summer and this summer.

Among them, Ryan took “Don’t Bug Me,” a class on insects and the environment that has sparked his interest in recycling. Emily attended a summer camp class in geography during which the children studied countries around the world and learned how snow forms by actually making some snow.

Young’s older son, Garrett, 16, attended a two-week program last year called Mission Quest, in which he “flew” in simulated planned aircraft missions and once was mission commander.

“And when my kindergartners went, they wore flight suits and walked through a mock-up of a C-130 plane,” Young said. “They even made clouds. It was a four-hour field trip, and they were so excited.”

Steve Davison, in his 10th year of committee work for the gala that raises funds for such classes and camps, is gala auction chairman this year. His committee members have been serving for so long that gathering some 300 auction items is not as difficult as it appears. “The committee functions like a well-oiled machine,” he said.

Davison noted that everything from the auction and raffle items to the food preparation and service has been donated.

“Those 30 or so food vendors donate their time, their energy, and their dime,” he said. “They cook, set up and take down afterwards. I’d like to ask (people) in return to remember them when you go out and shop. Support them like they support us.”

The Museum of Aviation Foundation was chartered in 1983 as a nonprofit 501 (c)3 organization. Since that time, the foundation has raised more than $39 million in cash and in-kind contributions from individuals, businesses, civic organizations and other sources to help build and support the museum.

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