History can repeat itself.
For the second year in a row, the ticket purchased at the auction during the Tucker Community Foundation’s annual Uncle Sam’s Birthday Party won the $5,000 grand prize.
Fred Meyer, Kelly Roberts, Solena Hovatter and Tom Kugel teamed up to buy the final ticket and it proved to be a wise investment.
About 300 people turned out at Canaan Valley Resort for the 29th year, which in addition to raising money for the foundation included the chance to win prizes large and small.
Each year the Tucker Community Endowment Foundation sells 249 tickets to the annual elimination dinner. The final ticket is sold during an auction.
Purchasing the winning ticket wasn’t easy, however. The auction was lively as three tables of individuals battled it out.
With a little encouragement from organizers and friends, Rita Haverty of Mountaintop Realty opened the bidding at $700. The bidding continued to increase as deals around tables were made and the price gradually surpassed $1,000.
As David Cooper, emcee and president of the Tucker Community Foundation’s Board of Directors, shouted going once, going twice, sold, Meyer’s group paid $1,200 for the ticket.
Cooper called the five remaining ticket holders to the front before the final tickets were pulled from the drum. The finalists have the option of splitting the winnings, or surviving the ticket draw.
Because one of the ticket holders did not have a proxy, the five finalists couldn’t split the remaining prize money. Canaan Valley Resort Food & Beverage team was the first ticket to be eliminated and took home $200.
Ed Watson and Jenny Newland were the next finalists eliminated followed by Tom Kalog. Watson and Newland won $300 and Kalog won $400.
Hovatter jumped with excitement as the next ticket eliminated was Danny Wagner. Wagner won $500.
She and her other three team members embraced each other. Three of the four individuals were part of last year’s winning group.
Meyer, who isn’t new to winning the big prize money, said, “It pays to come home. This event raises money for a good cause.”
At the start of the evening, Cooper, who also plays the role of “Uncle Sam,” welcomed everyone to celebration to this year’s “Peace, Love & 4th of July” event. He thanked them for their donation and continued support of the foundation’s mission of creating opportunities for the communities we serve.
Dan Bucher, member of Tucker Community Foundation Board of Directors and development director for Cortland Acres, opened the evening by giving the invocation.
The first ticket drawn was Mitchell Beall and it was a $125 winner.
One by one as people were eliminated, sounds of ‘oh and awe’ could be heard.
The loudest noise of the evening came from the Best of Canaan table as Sandy Roberts won the Take It Outside door prize valued at $1,700.
“We got it,” Roberts shouted as she raised her hand in the air with excitement. The door prize included a backyard drive-in outdoor movie theater, eucalyptus deep seat chairs with cushions, a folding table, firepit and West Virginia University football season passes.
Jean Ruckman won the Greenbrier Resort Getaway Package valued at $1,765. It included 3-nights of lodging plus a $400 amenities gift card.
Mike Cvecho won the Totally Tucker Treasure Chest valued at $2,650. It included gifts and certificates from nearly every business in Tucker County along with annual golf passes to Holly Meadows.
Cooper also recognized special individuals during the two-hour event. First, Diane Beall, member of Tucker Community Foundation Board of Directors, received a bouquet of flowers and a big thank you for selling 39 Uncle Sam’s Birthday Party tickets.
Next, Ken Smith, son of Mariwyn Faith McClain Smith, accepted a $1,000 donation to the McClain Fund. Mariwyn Smith was a founding member of the Foundation served on the board of directors for over 25 years. She recently passed away.
“We are eternally grateful for everything she has done for the foundation and she will be missed,” Cooper said.
Finally, Chris Stadelman, who passed away in May after a four-year battle with colorectal cancer, was remembered by Cooper and Donna Patrick. Stadelman was a former emcee of Uncle Sam and supporter of the foundation. Proceeds from the raffles went to the newly endowed Stadelman Journalism Scholarship Fund.
Sponsors of the event include Mountain Valley Bank, Miners & Merchants Bank, Citizen’s National Bank of West Virginia, Grant County Bank and First Energy Foundation.
Erika Smith of Ella’s in Thomas provided decorations for the event.
The Tucker Community Foundation manages more than 120 endowed funds providing annual scholarships and grants to nonprofits and charitable causes throughout the eight-county service area. Inspired by the flood of 1985, the mission of the Foundation is to create opportunities for the communities we serve. For more information on Uncle Sam’s Birthday Party or to learn about the foundation, visitwww.tuckerfoundation.net