Hospital fundraiser takes in almost $50,000


Brian O'Connor/ Wrangell Sentinel

Auctioneer/magician David Goodman holds a flaming wallet during the Brian Gilbert Memorial Golf Tournament awards banquet. A paddle-raise, or voluntary contribution without the prospect of buying an auction lot, raised $6,700, the single-most expensive item in the auction.

The perennial Brian Gilbert Memorial Golf Tournament and accompanying auction took in $49,000 over the weekend.

The tournament and awards banquet held Friday and Saturday, is the Wrangell Medical Center Foundation's largest single annual fundraiser. That amount doesn't include expenses, according to Kris Reed, who tracks the fundraiser's figures. Of money raised, 28 sponsors pledged $25,825, or more than half. While the number of sponsors was the largest number ever, their contributions missed by hundreds of dollars the largest sponsor contribution year, 2011.

The awards banquet also recognizes the recipient of the Janet Buness Award, given this year to Alice Rooney for numerous contributions to healthcare organizations in and around Wrangell, according to Reed.

A live auction hosted by auctioneer/magician David Goodman, raised several thousand additional dollars, though an exact accounting of that figure wasn't immediately available Tuesday due in part to the Memorial Day holiday.

In addition to magic tricks, the fundraiser featured a paddle-raise devoted to volunteer contributions without the expectation of buying an object. The paddle-raise collected $6,700 on its own, making it the largest amount garnered during the entire auction.

Hospital CEO Marla Sanger thanked sponsors, participants and volunteers.

"This is a really important fundraiser for us, for the Wrangell Medical Center Foundation," she said. "We're delighted to have so many people that have come from right here in Wrangell as well as from out of town. We greatly appreciate all of the help that we've received from our sponsors and everyone that contributed to the auction and everyone that's pitched in to help."

Master of Ceremonies Bob Prunella detailed his search for appropriate material for his warmup speech.

"I thought gee, I'd better have a hospital joke, a medical joke, a doctor's joke ... some kind of joke," he said. "I got on the Internet, and there's nothing there. What I discovered is that doctor's don't joke. Hospital administrators, they don't joke either. Nurses have some pretty good stories and jokes, they're pretty revealing and risque, so we won't go through any of those. I looked up senior citizen jokes, of which I am one, and I wrote down several of them, but I lost the notes and I forgot 'em. Sorry about that."

The Foundation started in 2007 to address cancer care needs in Wrangell and Southeast, promote medical careers, and eventually promote for a replacement hospital building, Prunella said.

"It's not only financial health, it's emotional health," he said, of the Foundation's Cancer fund. "To date they've expended about $32,000 on 22 recipients, some of whom are repeats."

In addition to the cancer fund, money raised at the golf tournament and auction would go toward hospital construction, Prunella said.

"Brian Gilbert's vision was to build a new medical facility and new medical center, to get this thing back on the blocks and let it happen," he said.

The Rev. Kem Haggard, minister of the Harbor Light Assembly of God, delivered an invocation drawn in part from an intimate familial battle with cancer over the previous months.

Brian O'Connor

Elliot Bruhl of Sitka eyes the results of a swing Saturday afternoon at the Muskeg Meadows Golf Course.

"Little did I know last year when I stood before you to do the invocation, that we would – our family, Susan and myself – would be one of the recipients of the travel help that you give. Those of you that know, here in the community, in October, we were pointed down to do further testing, so we went down to Seattle, and then in mid-November, Susan was diagnosed with cancer," he said. "I am happy to say that just on this last trip down to Seattle, the oncologist took a look at Susan and the test results and said 'You're out of here.'"

The crowd applauded, interrupting Haggard's speech.

"Thank you, thank you so much to each and every one of you that give," he continued. "Because of your donations, it makes it a whole lot easier."

The weekend's best nine-ball golf tournament results are as follows:

First place – Dr. Bob, Chris Urata, Frank Roppel, and Faye Kohert

Second place – Tyler Gunn, Brett Woodbury, Mike Ottesen, Jr., and Tyman Comstock.

Third place – Sue Nelson, Jane Bliss, George Benson, and Pam McCloskey

Fourth place – Rocky Littleton, Ray Pederson, Eric Kading, and Mike Hamblin

Fifth place – Jim Brooks, Rupert Henry, and Wayne Harding.

Wrangellite Barb Angerman won the straightest drive at 3/4 of an inch.


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