Thursday, August 22, 2013

An Emotional, Magical Day

Talking Rock's Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew Golf Tournament and Fundraiser took place on Monday. After just seven weeks of planning driven by a steering committee of five and supported by dozens of volunteers, we hosted an event that our club manager called "historic". Our small community raised over $247,000 for the families of our Hotshots. With a little more work, and some luck, over the next few weeks we may meet our lofty goal of $250,000.

How did all that money make its way to our small community? Our members were generous, buying playing spots in the golf tournament, sponsoring holes, or writing donation checks. They found corporate sponsors willing to buy sponsorships beginning at $5,000 - up to $10,000. One sponsor combined two for a $15,000 sponsorship. Businesses and individuals were convinced (by our volunteers) to donate items for our silent and live auctions, which generated $54,000. Our club, Talking Rock, was the "presenting sponsor", covering expenses for labor, food, sponsor signage, and more. Other services were donated by printers, advertising, and a graphic designer. This event simply would not have been possible without the commitment and magnanimity of the many who wanted to honor the Hotshots and help those they left behind.

The event day itself was nothing short of magical, in so many ways. We had honored guests from the Prescott and Central Yavapai Fire Districts. The entrance to the club was lined with hook and ladder trucks, whose horns and sirens kicked off the shotgun scramble. The golf course hummed with foursomes who were there for a good cause. Back at the Ranch House, Chef Richard and his crew were nothing short of awesome, having provided continental breakfast before tee time, they then had boxed lunches available for delivery onto the course. In the evening, our guests looked forward to a prime rib and salmon buffet.

To me, the magic really began after golf. A little rain and distant lightning temporarily pushed people inside to shop at the silent auction. Then raindrops gave way to sunshine, and the live auction began outside. Guests bid on attractive items like travel packages, rafting through the Grand Canyon, hunting, fishing, helicopter rides, and a custom-made KE-15 rifle made by friends of one of the Hotshots. Bidding was fierce, and items went from hundreds of dollars to as much as $10K. 

Guardian Air landed a helicopter on the driving range and delivered a donation check of $10,000. The Artful Eye, a local jeweler from Prescott, gave $19,000 from a fundraiser at their store. They also created a beautiful medallion that Talking Rock provided as a commemorative gift to participants.

Photo by Karen Barreira
There were many memorable moments during this special day. Taylor Caldwell, sister to fallen Hotshot Robert Caldwell, spoke of her family's loss. They take comfort in the fact that Robert died doing what he so loved, surrounded by his brothers. Two close friends of Hotshot Travis Turbyfill were seen toasting their friend in front of his photo posted on the wall of the Ranch House. A fireman's boot overflowed with cash donations. Rainbows lured people back outside to celebrate after the rain. All day, tears often were quickly followed by laughter and hugs.

It's difficult to describe the feelings we had at the end of the day. Into the evening, we danced and celebrated under the stars with friends and loved ones, and marveled at the generosity of our little community. We're feeling proud and fortunate to be in a place where we could do something to make a difference.

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