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Livestock parade helps raise $670K to fight cancer

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It took a parade of livestock to beat the inaugural Cattle Baron’s Ball live auction. And did it ever.

Seven bulls and heifers, one Arabian colt, a Missouri fox trotter named “Barney Fife” and a pair of Clydesdales did the trick, pulling in more than $125,000 during the American Cancer Society’s Aug. 21 fundraiser at the William H. Darr Agricultural Center. All told, the event raised $670,000 for ACS, topping the $500,000 mark set in the event’s first year in southwest Missouri.

A Clydesdale stole the show last year, and not to be outdone, donor Jeff Gower of Budweiser distributor Wil Fischer paraded out two Clydesdales in Year II. As they trotted by me – their manes’ neatly and daintily braided in red, white and blue bows – baby powder filled the air. I’d never smelled a horse so pleasant before. Now, these aren’t your ordinary Clydesdales. These two were authentically Scottish in color – the slight white spots as evidence – and together brought a winning bid of $45,000.

“Sold to Mary Joslyn,” auctioneer Billy Long shouted. John Joslyn, the owner of the Titanic museums in Branson and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., took home the Clydesdale last year with a $16,000 bid – the largest for a single item. Now, his wife, Mary Kellog-Joslyn, led the bidding.

The bulls gave the auction a shot in the arm, with “Naegler’s Dream” donated by auto dealer and cattleman Ed Pinegar drawing the highest bid among them at $25,000. Seems fitting after oil and convenience store executive Steve Naegler brought the bull auction to the dance this year. He even correctly projected the winning bid amount when I interviewed him about the bulls in June.

Donors again came through for the child cancer patients who painted ceramic plates during a Junior Cattle Baron’s Ball pre-event. Six sets of the hand-painted plates sold for a healthy $43,500.

The live auction this year seemed more business than fanfare, with auctioneer Long calling the shots. “There’s no recession in here,” Long quipped.

Organizers shouldn’t be disappointed in coming up short of its $750,000 goal. The 2010 tally is 34 percent higher than the inaugural year.

In their words
After the event, I e-mailed a few of the 1,000-plus attendees asking about their connection to ACS, their cancer stories and highlights from the ball.

I discovered a unique story from Rex Stephens of Marketing Solutions Group LLC. He and his wife, Heidi, attended the inaugural ball simply for fun, he said. Earlier this year, Heidi was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“This year took on a new motivation as we really felt like we were doing something to help in the research of this ever growing and prevalent disease,” he said. “Knowing the funds raised were going to help find a cure meant even more this year as it hit us right at home. The
group/committee put on a wonderful night of fun and entertainment all in the name of raising money to help defeat this disease.

“The highlight of the night for us was watching everyone having fun and all in the name of raising money. Seeing so many influential people in town all reaching deep in their pockets to contribute was truly great.”

The Stephenses brought along friends Mark Miller and his wife.

Miller said, “The highlight of the night was seeing Heidi laughing and smiling with her friends. When I saw her laughing – and she’s got a great laugh – it made me think, ‘Heidi’s going to make it.’”

Chris Ball, principal at Jack Ball & Associates Architects PC, said his mother is the source of his cancer story. “My mother died from bone marrow cancer six years ago,” he said. “Watching my Mom battle it like a champion for eight years really had a profound effect on me. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago and is currently in remission.”

Bill Bryan, Merrill Lynch senior financial adviser, said he’s seen the severity of cancer first-hand on several family members and co-workers.

“It is, however, a disease that with enough research could plausibly be defeated, so it is well worth an event of this scope,” said Bryan, who was involved in planning the ball both years.

A highlight of the night for him is watching the livestock auction.

“My cousins have auctioned off an Arabian colt for both year’s events, and you don’t often see two Clydesdales get sold at any auction. Everything about the CBB is unique, not the least of which is the livestock arena venue,” he said.

Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson is co-chairman of the Cattle Barn’s Ball publicity committee. He can be reached at eolson@sbj.net.[[In-content Ad]]

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