Archive for Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Bulldog Bash from the beginning

August 7, 2002

Two years ago at this time, a number of us were sitting around looking at each other at The Lodge trying to figure out how to raise 15 grand to get junior high football going in Baldwin. Trying to sell 10,000 cheese logs or 5,000 chili supper tickets seemed to be slightly better than selling 3,000 Ted Madl swimsuit calendars at $5 a pop. We basically wanted to find one major project that could raise the dough in one big effort rather than dragging things out over the course of several months with a bunch of smaller fundraisers.

We were a bit of a "strange" lot with nothing much in common with each other except the desire to raise some money to get junior high football going. At the first meeting, most of us were looking at each other with that "Man, how in the heck did I get involved in this?" look. We had a diverse group ranging from a guy who worked as an undercover cop (Gerald Cullumber) to a wildlife and conservation expert (Lew Ruona). Throw in others like the congenial Brian Orloff, young coaches like Mike Berg, Dennis Mills and Scott Hall, not to mention hunting guru Ted Madl and the nimble Dale Enick, and it's pretty obvious that we started out with a "unique" group indeed. Fortunately, Peach Madl was part of our group as well, so we had at least one person with an IQ over 75.

Out of this motley crew came "The Birth of the Bash." We decided to try to have a pre-game cookout creating a tailgate type atmosphere before the first Baldwin home football game. Supt. James White gave the okay to sell tickets that would admit an entire family to the ballgame and the Bash. We set the price at $50 per ticket and then all we had to do was sell about 400 tickets at $50 each to cover everything! I can still remember one of our group saying, "Wow, at $50, these tickets are friendmakers and friendbreakers!"

Without a doubt, we faced a huge task and needless to say there were a number of skeptics. Clearing $15,000 on a one-shot fundraiser in a small town, where people are endlessly faced with a number of other worthwhile requests for donations, was indeed a major test.

Six sales "groups" were formed with leaders and "salespersons" who were basically tricked, bribed or coerced into joining the sales force. Ads were purchased each week indicating tickets sold and progress toward the goal of 400 as we tried to "Dress the Dawg," an eight-foot football figure that was colored in according to tickets sold. A cheesy message board was posted next to the football likeness in front of The Lodge keeping track of the sales figures which were updated weekly throughout the month of August.

Bash momentum began to grow as the summer progressed. A number of Baldwin alumni were contacted and responded by buying a ticket. The Baldwin Alumni Association stepped up big time and kicked in $1,000 for the campaign. Baker University pitched in by agreeing to provide all the food at no cost! Baldwin restaurants kicked in a couple hundred food coupons that allowed the kids to compete for prizes in several contests administered by "volunteer" Baker basketball guys. Ruona and Bill Scott rustled up a bunch of donated raffle prizes and we had yet another source of income for the event. An estimated 700-800 people showed up at the Bash and to say the event was a success would be an understatement.

When the dust cleared, more than $15,000 was generated. In what was without a doubt one of the best community-school joint activities ever in Baldwin, the inaugural Bash was a hit. The real winners though were the 70-plus kids who showed up for seventh and eighth grade football last fall in Baldwin's first season of junior high football. Granted, there weren't too many future NFL prospects in the group, but there was a bunch of kids that were able to take part in a constructive, positive activity. The Bash and the efforts of the Baldwin community helped make this possible.

Give yourself a pat on the back, Baldwin. You started something rolling that can really help our kids. Well, it's time to gear up for Bash III unless the rumors surrounding the production of the Ted Madl Swimsuit Calendar can be confirmed.

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