Birmingham, Ala.—October 26, 2015—Friends and supporters of On River Time contributed over $130,000 (net proceeds) at the nonprofit’s second annual Fish On! fundraiser. The live auction, held September 24 at the Florentine Building, was headlined by keynote speaker John Croyle and the auctioneers from Granger, Thagard & Associates.
Founder Steve Davis opened the evening with a clear message: “Your generosity increases our impact.” He reminded you that On River Time is accountable for some ambitious promises made last year for 2015:
- Take a record number of kids
- Partner with another children’s home organization
- Pilot a scholarship program for attendees and high school seniors
- Begin offering a second ORT experience to high school seniors as peer mentors
- Follow through with plans for an ORT cabin at The Lodge at Palisades Creek
He also sketched some of the 2016 goals to translate a concrete vision to the audience: a record 20 children and 8 guardians making the trip next June; five $1,000 scholarships for ORT seniors; adding a third partner from a third state; and breaking ground on the ORT cabin.
John Croyle, Founder of Big Oak Ranch began his keynote speech as the first course of dinner was served. John reminded all that this is the only organization that he speaks at for fundraising other than his own—such is its impact on his children. His kids have been through horrific incidents, but Big Oak brings them comfort and normalcy. He noted that Steve Davis and ORT have exemplified Croyle’s belief that “obedience is followed by provision.” The “ripple effect” is clearly demonstrated by the growth of On River Time, he said.
After Croyle’s speech, guests enjoyed dinner provided by Coretti Catering. Then it was time to start the bidding: Cuba, Ireland, California Wine Country, fly fishing, hunting. Granger, Thagard & Associates’ auctioneers of course stoked an exciting atmosphere with their animated, good-natured nudges for one more bid. As the open-giving session began, the auctioneer announced that an anonymous donor would be matching the donations. Following the auction, the 7th Avenue Band played.
Wes Priest, Resident Program Director at Still Creek Ranch (Bryan, TX), ORT’s new partner organization, was able to join us this year. He spoke briefly about how important it was for his group to break their normal routine and surroundings to reflect on their lives and their faith. He said, “The On River Time experience will stay with these kids forever.”
Executive Director Jeana Durst reflected, “We get better at refining our vision every year because we listen to the children and translate their needs back to our supporters; this fundraiser is critical to giving more children the experience of a lifetime.”