Company News, Event
Having a Ball: An evening of fun and fundraising at MDA’s Milwaukee Black-N-Blue Ball
On May 8, MDA, together with Harley-Davidson and other sponsors, held the 22nd annual Milwaukee Black-N-Blue Ball at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wis. More than 1,300 people showed up for a night of raffles, auctions, dinner and more. In all, the Ball netted more than $900,000 for MDA, making it the most successful Black-N-Blue Ball in the country.
For many attendees, the Children’s Art Auction is the highlight of the Ball. Starting in 2011, this auction became a signature event of the evening after organizers noticed that art by MDA children in the silent auction tended to receive very large bids — and rightly so. Now, the Children’s Art Auction takes place during the cocktail reception before the dinner and live auction. This year, by itself, the art auction raised $41,300, including a $20,000 sponsorship from ATEK Companies.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces when they see their artwork displayed and their excitement as the bids go up is absolutely the highlight of the evening for me,” says Mark Osmanski, president and CEO of ATEK. In addition to its sponsorship, ATEK also purchased two pieces of art at the auction.
Scott Bucher, president of Traction Factory, a local business development and communications firm, has been attending the Ball since 1999, and in 2006, he purchased his first piece of art by an MDA child artist, Cyrus Procarione.
“When I first encountered his art, it was at a silent auction,” Scott says. “It was just a piece that to me stood out. It was a statement to me of this kid in this situation expressing himself about something that was interesting and important to him.”
Since that year, Bucher has purchased Cyrus’s art every year, spending as much as $12,000 in 2014 — a record for the auction — and $3,700 this year.
“Over time, his art has evolved,” Bucher says. “His style has changed and you can track not only him aging, but him being in a place in time and what was important to him at the time. It’s not [like other auction items such as] a leather jacket or a poker table; it’s very personal and individual.”
While Bucher may have set the record for spending in the Children’s Art Auction, he is quick to emphasize that he is just one of many who support the cause and make the event a success. “I’m one of 1,400 people from the Milwaukee area who put this event as a priority in my life, and in that sense I’m not remarkable,” he says.
Milwaukee Black-N-Blue By the Numbers
$110,000-plus: money raised at the Ball during an appeal to the crowd for donations to send kids to MDA summer camp.
400: number of tickets sold at $100 each for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle raffle.
8:30 p.m.: time when the wine-pull raffle sold out, a full three-and-a-half hours before the event concluded.
350: number of items — many donated by local businesses — in the silent auction, which raised nearly $113,000.
$60,000: amount raised in the live auction, which included another Harley-Davidson motorcycle, artwork, trips and more.
10th: birthday on the Monday following the event of surprise guest and MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Reagan Imhoff, who was treated to a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by all attendees.
To find out more about the events like this one in your community, contact your local MDA office at (800) 572-1717.