While packing up our goods following last Saturday's Club University in Phoenix, NRA Field Rep Donna Cassidy cornered Son (Marketing Manager Son Nguyen) and I with a suggestion; how about coming to tonight’s East Valley Friends of NRA dinner? After consulting our cohorts (Marketing Coordinator Melissa Betts and Youth Programs Coordinator Claudia Olsen), we jumped in a cab and headed for Mesa, Arizona.
Arriving about thirty minutes into the action, we began taking in the night by slowly traveling from table to table and game to game. There was Plinko, the Big Wheel of Fun, raffles, silent auctions, live auctions, grills, guns, and a toaster that emblazes the NRA logo on your morning toast.
“This is the Eighteen Annual Dinner & Auction, but it’s my first running the show,” said Friends Chairman Devin Guill. “I can’t tell you how much respect I have for those who did this before me. It’s a lot more work than you think. Well worth it, but a lot of work.”
Guill didn’t stop at running the show. He also made sure his family was there to share in the evening.
“My wife and daughter are working admissions, my son is on the Plinko game, and I’m doing a little of everything else.”
But they weren’t the only ones. There were plenty of others who stepped up and volunteered their time. Two young ladies walked the room to show off the big ticket items, a seasoned auctioneer who kept prodding the crowd for more, and an enthusiastic lass working the Ladies Raffle.
“My husband Tony got me started while we were dating,” said Elsa Dejong. “First at the range, then the NRA events, and then I started winning guns! One year is was a .22 Cricket, next it was a .38, and then a shotgun. I’d won so many guns that I thought I should start working the raffles too. Keep the karma going.”
Elsa’s charge, the Lady's Raffle, was a collection of prizes that would make any pistol shooter envious. Included in the packages was a set of diamond encrusted pistol earrings and pendant, a concealed carry class, a pink pistol and a beautiful black pack to carry it all.
All in all the night was a great success. The auction was lively, the dinner was tasty (Claudia let me steal her cheesecake,) and thousands of dollars were raised for the NRA. As in the case with all the funds raised at Friends dinners, half of the money will stay in Arizona to help fund new equipment for the high school rifle team, range maintenance, shooting lessons for 4-H, and more.
So thanks to Donna for the invite, Devin for hosting, and the hundreds of loyal NRA supporters who piled into the Phoenix East/Mesa Hilton’s grand ballroom for a night of family, friends and fun.