The dust has settled, and a stampede of wealthy businesspeople, nonprofit advocates and dedicated volunteers ultimately roped in $715,000 for the American Cancer Society during the 2011 Cattle Baron’s Ball last month.
The third annual event in southwest Missouri attracted more than 1,000 guests – at more than $150 a ticket – a handful of squealing piglets in a Midway game and two llamas in a live auction, which combined with a silent auction netted $220,000.
Having served for three years on the ball’s publicity committee, I know event organizers are pleased with the results. But there is a tinge of disappointment in their voices when they talk about the numbers. The goal was $750,000 this year and some dangled the idea of reaching $1 million. People from all circles – namely chairpersons Larry and Vickie Hayward, and some 125 committee members – worked their tails off to reach it.
Truth is, no one involved with the ball should apologize for raising more than $700,000 during a 12-month span for any nonprofit – not in this economy or any, really. It’s a great feat that organizers and donors have stepped up each year since raising $500,000 in the 2009 event – the most successful inaugural gala in the ACS High Plains Division. Last year, the figure moved to $670,000. What about the recession? There is little consideration about economic strains among this crowd.
When I talk to businesspeople in the community, most are in awe that the event raises so much each year.
Having started the Cattle Baron’s Ball in the 1970s in Dallas, the ACS dinner and entertainment fundraiser really is something special. The Dallas event has raised more than $40 million since then, and now there are about 300 galas nationwide.
The Springfield ball is on its way, now with more than $1.8 million raised since its inception.
It seems there’s always new discoveries of those pitching in to help, in large and small ways.
For instance, there was Dawn Grizzell snapping pictures all over the William H. Darr Agricultural Center the night of the ball. Grizzell, who works for her Realtor father David Martin, volunteers her time to manage the Cattle Baron’s Ball’s Web site and Facebook page – and made a cameo appearance as event photographer when another volunteer became sick. Her husband, Kevin Grizzell of the Springfield Police Department, also volunteered, heading up the security team.
Another behind-the-scenes team worked the week before the event to ensure the barn-turned-gala-site was appropriately cooled down with the arrival of 1,000 people on a late August day. The goal: 75 degrees inside.
Crews and equipment from Central Power Systems & Services, Carrier Rental Systems, MHC Kenworth and Prime Inc. delivered eight air conditioning units ranging between 25 tons and 50 tons, a 450-ton chiller system the length of a semitrailer and a 675 kilowatt generator. When asked about the power of the generator, Bill Hayworth of MHC Carrier said, “It’s a little less than a lightning strike.”
Equipment was hauled in from Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., Kansas and Arizona. “This is for ACS,” Hayworth added. “It’s just a bunch of business partners getting together to make it work.”
The companies also supplied laborers, including Art Fuentes of Carrier Rental Systems, whose company sent him here from Chicago for the week.
“It takes a week to put it up and a day to pull it down,” said Darrin Burrell, a fellow laborer, who works for MHC Carrier.
It’s true. By dusk the Sunday after the event, the Darr Center looked untouched, a breeze sweeping through the trees and horses galloping in front.
Until next year.
But first, the 2011 festivities wrap up with a Sept. 19 golf tournament at Eagle Creek Golf Club near Downstream Casino. Originally planned for June, the tourney was rescheduled after the May 22 tornado hit Joplin.Springfield Business Journal Editor Eric Olson is co-chairman of the Cattle Baron’s Ball publicity committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.