THE WAY I SEE IT: Heartstrings tug purse strings

Ann Cousineau

THE WAY I SEE IT: Heartstrings tug purse stringsMost of Ridgecrest probably didn’t even know there was a fundraising auction in town last weekend. It didn’t matter.

This wasn’t just any auction. For those who attended the event, it will remain one of the most stunning examples of Indian Wells Valley generosity for years to come.

There’s no way most people at Saturday’s “Evening for Ridgecrest Autism Awareness” benefit auction could have imagined they’d find themselves at one of the most amazing auctions ever held here. Even the auctioneer was often caught off guard and stunned by the number of big-hearted bidders.

Shortly after a tasty meal and lively entertainment, the very first item set the pace for last Saturday’s event when the first bid—$300—took a silk tie embellished with a crayon drawing by young autistic boy out of the auctioneer’s hand.

It turned out to be just one of many such startling surprises at the auction block that night.

This indication of the size of people’s hearts at the auction was further verified when flying placards, sometimes as many as eight at a time, seemed to dance on the ends of lively heartstrings attached to generous wallets, checkbooks and credit cards.

The 100-plus crowd often gasped as auction prices far exceeded even the wildest guesses expected on some items. Things expected to bring in donations below $100 — including a stunning but small marzipan delicacy — were sold to high bidders boldly coughing up $200 to $400. A Coach purse brought in a thousand dollars for the cause just before the auction ended.

Some might have thought that it would take more than selling 100 admittance tickets to spell success for any fundraising event. Others might say auctioning off a mere 35 low- to moderately priced items could have become a tedious affair if the auctioneers had to face a “nickel-and-diming” crowd.

At first glance, the benefit auction for Ridgecrest Autism Awareness might even have seemed to come up short on the people.

Switch that train of thought and speculation, folks, this auction is going down on the local record books as one the most strikingly successful fundraisers ever.

Not only were all the auction items and door prizes donated; everything served up at this nicely decorated venue was donated — food, labor, decorations and entertainment.

Without a doubt, however, the highlight of the auction didn’t involve any bidding at all.

You could have heard a pin drop when three autistic children who were helping out at the event came to the microphone to say hello and introduce themselves. The young boys stole hearts with their fun-loving banter and cheery honesty.

Astounding bidding wars erupted whenever the auction block brought silk scarves and ties sporting the delicate yet bold drawings of the boys and other autistic children not in attendance.

The bottom line is this: the $18,600 raised at this event, including some generous checks written above and beyond the auction bids, “just because.”

All monies collected are staying in Ridgecrest and will go a long way toward funding this city’s first Ridgecrest Autism Awareness Conference on Nov. 16 and other activities.

Story First Published: 2013-04-10