Auction draws outpouring of support

Community gives generously to fund local autism awareness & education conference

Ann Cousineau

Auction draws outpouring of supportAt press time members of the Ridgecrest Autism Awareness team were still overwhelmed by the amazing show of support at Saturday night’s auction to raise funds for a local conference slated for Nov. 16.

“We are humbled and blessed by the total and unwavering support that was on display Saturday. We are so very thankful to everyone who came out to the auction and to all of the families that could not make it but still supported,” said auction organizer Cherish Rindt.

She praised other members of the RAA team – Jenn Shultz, Diane Ruggiero and Michelle Lemke —all of whom played key roles in the success of the auction.

“Together we can do great things! We raised enough money to fully fund the conference and to help bring more support, education and awareness to our valley,” Rindt added.

Two significant speakers have been secured for the Nov. 16 conference, Rindt said. Jeffrey Popkin, associate director of Kern Regional Center, has agreed to participate, as has Dr. Ali Sadeghi, a board-certified behavior analyst with a double doctorate in psychology and applied behavior analysis and the executive director of California PsychCare in Ridgecrest.

Rindt also applauded Wallace and Matthew Martin of W.T. Martin Auctions for their expertise at the auction, especially when faced with highly unusual antics of bidders determined to outbid one another.

“I honestly believe in my heart that this auction was meant to happen,” said Wallace Martin. ‘In the past 15 or so years I have been doing auctions, I have never experienced anything like this. It was unbelievable! The energy and love in that room was something like I have never felt before.”

Martin reported that the frantically high bidding again and again and again was simply astounding.

He credited his son Matthew with helping him to “put on one heck of a show.”

The two have worked together for years performing show auctions to benefit local charities with great causes.

Matthew, a student at Cerro Coso, with future goals of law and politics, serves as the technician for W.T. Martin Auctions, spending hours researching dynamic music and sound effects to keep the auctions jumping. Nick Kleinschmidt also assisted the show team for this auction.

One woman firmly stood her ground, refusing to be outbid and buying a purse for $1,000, with another buying a piece of artwork for $600-plus.

“At times, 20 paddles were going up at each item, and many being left up firmly as if to say, ‘Just try and outbid me!’ People were buying ties and scarves for $500 each and then emotionally giving them back to the original owner in a loving and caring fashion. One man re-donated his item.

“I simply have never seen this before. It was magic. There wasn’t a dry in the house for much of the auction — tears of joy and compassion. I will never forget it.”

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Story First Published: 2013-04-10