To Our Friends:
You've heard it before and you will no doubt hear it again, but the Minden St Jude Auction is special! It has become a showcase for the very best Minden and the Webster Parish community has to offer. Thank you cannot begin to convey our deep, heartfelt gratitude to all the individuals and groups who came together to raise $1,248,296.00 in 4 days for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital this year. This is an unbelievable amount of money for a small rural area in north Louisiana to raise, no doubt assuring that we will once again be the event that raises the most money per capita yet again for St. Jude!
Last weekend's 38th annual Minden St Jude Auction was jam packed, as usual. There were the scheduled highlights, such as the first annual "Jamming for Jude" concert series, the Young Women's Service Club Kids Day with its largest crowd to date, the Life Share Blood Drive, and 7 delicious meals prepared by individual groups, all donating profits and proceeds. We had great success with our T-shirt sales (in spite of a weather delayed delivery), the St Jude store, and Concessions. Organizers for the Saturday morning 5K-10K Fun Run proudly announced almost 1000 entries! It was certainly a highlight to watch the sea of participants take off through the starting arch, many with kids, strollers, and dogs. The Saturday Chili Cook Off, sponsored by Minden Medical Center, welcomed Bayou Magic band and over 60 entries again! Kudos to George French and company for being one of our strongest long term supporters.
The many presentations and visits from groups and guests throughout the weekend added money and meaning to the Auction, reminding us all that, although critical, it is not only the large dollar amounts that bring us the success that we have. The smaller, simpler pieces to the puzzle fit together give the auction its heart. It is the local personalities on the air each hour, lines of people buying take-out, the kids selling cookies and rubber band bracelets, the girl scouts and nursing home residents collecting can tabs, children raiding piggy banks and making valentines for St Jude patients, Mrs. Cora Lou selling her prints, and the smell of beignets cooking as you enter the Civic Center. We love and encourage these individual efforts, no matter how seemingly big or small. This is what makes Minden special, the fact that we all do what we can to make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer.
Our Webster Parish Schools continue to be the driving force in our event. They raised over $172,000 to give to St. Jude! We are blessed beyond measure to have the quality of educators, administrators, support staff and parents that make it a priority, not only to teach, but to inspire children to work hard for something greater then personal gain. Please thank them, support them and let them know we appreciate their hard work and commitment to raising strong, community minded leaders of tomorrow.
As always, the year around work by Minden St. Jude Auction sponsors, committees and volunteers is top notch amazing! There are too many to list, but you know who you are, working hard, supplying what we need and expecting nothing in return. We cannot begin to express our gratitude enough. We could not do what we do without your commitment, time, talent, money and love for the hospital.
Our rainy Sunday was suddenly lightened up with a surprise visit from Duck Dynasty super star, Si Robertson. A huge shout out to Jenny Mourad for making this appearance happen! Uncle Si, as he is called on the A&E #1 rated show, got a ride to the Civic Center with his grandson, Ethan, on a fire truck. His first stop was a private visit with our two patients, Helen Forgey and Brock Cassell, to drink tea and eat Twinkies in the Duck Dynasty inspired playhouse built by the Minden Fire Department. Next stop was the Civic Center for a picture opportunity to the first 80 kids to buy a chance on the playhouse. After receiving the key to the city from Mayor Tommy Davis, Robertson told the crowd how special this event is and how much he genuinely appreciated what was done in Minden to help the Children of St Jude. He was quite amazed by what he saw! A visit from possibly the most popular reality star in the country right now – another Minden Auction First! This was an experience that any of us will not soon forget, especially and most importantly Brock, Helen and their families.
We will close this chapter in auction history with the story of the Sanders Machine Works Employee Group. Sanders Machine Works employees and their bosses ran as a team in the Saturday morning 5K. Afterward, still in their running shirts and numbers, Ricky and Diana Sanders along with the whole team of employees presented a check on stage for the amount of $10,000! They also threw out a challenge to whoever won the Grand Prize ticket to give the money back to St Jude! This made the last drawing of the night extra special when Sanders Machine Works was drawn out of the Hopper as the Grand Prize winner. They joyfully made good on their challenge, and the Auction total was $50,000 higher. This was a new auction first! This humbling generosity gave even long time MSJ veterans one of the most powerful moments we have ever experienced in the history of the auction, and that is saying a lot! Certainly we want to be careful to say that any winner who chooses to keep their grand prize is absolutely no less generous or supportive with their part in helping the hospital in any way! Not everyone is always in the position to pass up such opportunities. We are simply and gratefully acknowledging Sanders' incredible donation. The gesture was stunning, and we are all a little richer for having witnessed the pure, true joy of giving back. A fitting end to an amazing weekend!
On Monday, organizers were knee deep in final trash pick-up and table take down when Diana Sanders came by to see us. She proudly and emotionally told us how excited they were to be able to do this, and how much she loved and respected the special people who work for Sanders Machine. All are grateful for their many blessings and healthy children, and want to help fund research so that one day no parent will have to grieve for the loss of a child to the plague of childhood cancer. There was not a dry eye in the room. This epitomizes the mission and the soul of the Minden St Jude Auction, and we are so very grateful to all in this great community of special citizens for their participation. We really are the small town with the big heart, and our hope is that this auction will one day no longer be relevant because cancer is cured. But until that time, we will continue to gather on Super Bowl weekend to raise much needed funds for St Jude Children's Research Hospital. And that's a fact, Jack!!
Minden St. Jude Auction Co-Chairmen