Start the bidding!
For the 58th year the Eagles Cancer Auction at the Owatonna Eagles Club raised a boatload of money to help fund local cancer research Minnesota.
The event began on Friday at 6 p.m. and continued on Saturday afternoon and featured a live auction with well over 500 items as well as various gift cards and certificates.
This year’s chairs were Nola and Dan Olson, who recently presented last year’s money in the form of a check during the Fifth District Cancer Telethon on Jan. 19. Last year the auction raised $41,000 for local cancer research.
“All the proceeds stay in Minnesota,” Nola Olson said. “It gets distributed to Rochester Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the Hormel Institute in Austin.”
After 58 years, the auction has become a favorite fundraiser within the community. Part of the reason the event seems to grow each year is that cancer is a disease which hits home for a lot of people, including the Olsons.
“We lost Dan’s mom in 2010 to cancer,” Nola explained. “Just within this last year we lost my mom and my aunt to cancer, and my best friend from high school just got diagnosed with breast cancer. It hits home and it has more meaning for us, so we were really gung-ho this year to raise a ton of money.”
Although persuaded initially into joining the auction committee by friends of theirs, the Olsons have taken what was a supporting role and stepped up to chair the event this year. “We’re hoping to double the money raised from last year,” Dan said optimistically.
The event features a live auction, with auctioneers rotating throughout the weekend due to the exciting and fast-paced atmosphere, which is itself a draw. “People get into bidding wars and all of a sudden something might raise a little more,” Dan said of the fun a live auction provides.
“I think they look forward to it,” Nola said of the community’s continued participation. “Owatonna and the surrounding communities have just been phenomenal, not only the businesses but the people in general who just come out to support this cause. Obviously without each other, this wouldn’t take place.”
Both her and Dan are in agreement over Owatonna’s willingness to help those in need, or to chip in for a good cause when asked. “Whether it’s an event like this, or raising money for an individual who has cancer, they just step up,” Nola said of the community.
“The auctioneers, they volunteer their time, and they do a phenomenal job and they keep everything going and moving,” she said of those calling out bids. “Without those guys, I don’t think it would take place. They’re professionals, that’s what they do.”
The entire committee is also volunteers. “The committee is wonderful,” Nola added after explaining that it is an all-year effort to get the auction underway including preparation and soliciting for donations.
Brandon Nelson has been an auctioneer at the event for 10 years and is more than happy to volunteer for such a good cause. “It’s fun to raise money for a good cause,” Nelson explained. “It’s an honor that they ask us to help, because everybody knows where it goes, and everybody’s been affected by cancer in one way or another so that hits home for everybody.”
“It’s interesting to see all the faces that come back year after year,” he said of the pleasure the event provides. “It just gives you an energy boost. I want people to have fun, because if they’re engaged and having fun, then they’re spending money. There’s a friendly competition to it.”