Elkin — Friday’s 14th annual wine auction was the kickoff to the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival but it was also an important fundraising project for the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The festival started at 6 p.m. Friday night and went on throughout the evening, treating local residents to a night of great food, banter, music and the chance to raise money for the hospital foundation.
“The wine festival started 15 years ago to help promote this area as a destination of wine vineyards and I think we have really set us apart as one of the premiere wine events in North Carolina,” said Master of Ceremonies Jeff Eidson. “This auction not only gives us a chance to raise money for a good cause but also to dress up and celebrate what we are as a community.”
Guests got to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and music from three bands throughout the night; the Elkin Big Band directed by Larry Irwin, the Luke Mears Band, and the Jerry Chapman band. Bidders got to bid on items and trips through both live and silent auctions. The live auction took place off-and-on throughout the night and was hosted by auctioneer Ricky Higgins. All of the items were donated primarily by local people and affiliates but items from outside Surry County were also presented to guests. A solid wood cherry chest of drawers, a Jacqueline Kennedy collection necklace, a trip to Deerfield Plantation in Surfide Beach, South Carolina, and even six tickets to the Carolina Panthers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game were just a few of the lots presented during the auction. A draw-down also occurred giving people a chance to win anything from four Subway sandwiches to the grand prize of a four-day, three-night Caribbean Cruise.
“I think everybody’s having a good time. The bids might be a bit higher this year,” said guest J.L. Lowe.
While the auction was an integral part of the evening, for many, the chance to catch up with friends and family was the highlight for many guests.
“The event’s been really fun. It’s a good way to promote the hospital and to help make money for things they need around the community. It’s nice for everyone to get together and have a fun night, get dressed up, go out, leave the kids at home and just unwind,” said hospital intern Carolyn Blackburn. “It’s my second time presenting for the auction. My mom works for the hospital and they had an opening and asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. It’s really fun. I really liked presenting three-strand pearls. They were so pretty.”
For nurse Melissa Wall, it was an opportunity to not only mingle with friends but also meet other medical professionals.
“This is my first year attending this event. It’s a great chance to get to know other hospitals and facilities and network together with people,” said Melissa Wall of Golden Living Center from Mount Airy. “What I really appreciate is that it’s a charity and a chance for us to get to know each other not just as professionals but as people. Just to see the camaraderie and the amount of participation and donations has astounded me and it’s not just Elkin locals making donations; it’s other venues from outside this local area coming together for a good cause. I was surprised by the Panther’s tickets and the getaway to Williamsburg. I bid $700 one of the lots. I didn’t get it but it’s just seeing how people care and how much participation there has been for this cause is outstanding.”
This year, the hospital foundation’s goal was to raise $60,000 to place 30 =automated external AED automated defibrillators in churches and non-profit organization throughout Alleghany, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties.
“These defibrillators could save someone’s life,” said Vicki Holcomb Clark, executive director of Hugh Chatham. “Anyone could have an attack and it just might be what they need to get their heart back in rhythm. With so many of these public places away from medical centers, some people may not have time to get the care they need to survive.”
Jane Hazelman believes that the wine auction is not just a great social event but a great demonstration of the community’s support for the hospital and the spirit of the people living here.
“The hospital is our community at its best,” Jane Hazelman. “Hospitals have been important to our country for 200 years and the spirit of our community is about helping and reaching out to others. It’s a small hospital but we want it to be the best hospital. Everyone supports it.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.