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Heroes and high hopes at auction

Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley’s 38th annual Benefit Auction could net $235,000 to ‘lig

Posted: June 17, 2009 7:33 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Kevin Malone, right, displays a bat signed by Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which fetched $3,250 to benefit the club. Emcee and news media personality Rick Chambers, left, reads auction item description.

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There were heroes and high hopes Saturday at the 38th annual benefit auction for the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley. “Lighting our Future — a Black and White Benefit” garnered nearly $235,000 to help fund operations, said Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the club which operates three facilities for SCV youth.

The auction attracted more than 700 attendees, with many last minute “at the door” guests, said auction co-chair Greg Amsler.

Amsler and his wife, Chell, served their second year at the helm of the annual auction.

The evening, held outdoors at Mann BioMedical Park in Valencia, was blessed with perfect weather despite worries from organizers rain would dampened the proceedings.

“We were on pins and needles all week about the weather,” said Ventress.

Auction guests dressed, in the evening’s theme colors of black and white, casually perused the tables of more than 200 silent auction items before sitting down to dinner and the live auction of 44 high-ticket items which included Hawaiian vacations, sports memorabilia, jewelry and other miscellaneous luxury goods.

Among the high bidders was Anna Ott, Boys & Girls Club Foundation president, who spent $15,000 for the Head Table at the 2010 auction after a frenzied bidding war.

“The (auction) committee does such a beautiful job on the table and I love it — and it’s for the kids,” said Ott from her seat at the 2009 Head Table which was decked out in beautiful black and white decor. “I’m obviously thrilled.”

Jeff Kreitzman purchased the Ultimate Lakers Fan Package for $10,000. He won courtside seats to a Lakes game as well as two passes to the Chairman’s Room, a basketball signed by Kobe Bryant and other goodies.

“I’m a Laker fan, but I’m going to donate to this event anyway so I might as well go to a Laker game,” he said.

Among the items attracting the most interest and the highest prices were a one-year membership at TPC ($7,000); Jonas Brothers concert tickets ($2,000); a Princess Cruise to Mexico or the Caribbean ($4,000), an evening of “enchantment” for 50 atop the Sky Tower at Magic Mountain ($4,000); a 7.10 carat diamond necklace ($3,000); Maui home for a week ($5,000); 3.54 diamond necklace ($3,000) and a Manny Razmirez autographed baseball bat ($3,250).

Some items were auctioned twice by generous donors including a luxurious Kona home which fetched $4,250 from each bidder and a “Picnic in the Park” at the new Picnic Pavilion at Magic Mountain which also commanded $4,250 from two bidders. A week in Maui brought in $3,000 twice from two bidders.

Cheri Fleming was surprised by husband Don Fleming who bid $5,000 for a 6.52 carat diamond bracelet in honor of her birthday — which was Saturday.

“It is the most amazing gift that Don has ever given me,” said Cheri Fleming. “This is probably the best cause on the face of the planet so it’s a win-win win, my husband’s off the hook and it’s a great birthday.”

Rich Chambers, a well known Los Angeles news media personality who lives in Saugus, emceed the event.

“It is always terrific to do this event,” he said. “I don’t know how many years I’ve been doing it because it is one of those things you know is coming up in June and so you clear the calendar and  make sure you have time to do it. It is nice to see so much support for the Boys and Girls club because they really need it right now.”

Entertainment was provided by the youth of the Boys & Girls Club of the SCV which has locations in Newhall, Canyon Country and Val Verde.

The young singers and dancers entertained the auction guests with a variety of performances including Hawaiian, Tahitian and hip hop dance  as well as vocal performances.

“It’s pretty gutsy for our young people to come and perform at our auction and I’m really proud of them,” said Ventress.

At midpoint in the live auction youth from the Boys & Girls Club stood in front of and on the stage with small faux votive candles as guests were asked to sponsor a youth for a year at the club at the cost of $500 each. Pledges at levels of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500 and $100 were collected.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a fixture in the SCV and what they do to keep the kids busy and support the kids in the community benefits all of us,” said Bob Hudson of Valencia. “It’s something we’re all here to support.”

Ventress said the auction went beyond the expectations of organizers, considering the state of the economy.

“We know it’s a tough year, but once again it shows what this community is about — to see them come out like they did to support us this year, I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart,” he said.



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