by Penny Crane
From July 12th through the 19th, I attended the American Council of the Blind conference and convention in Las Vegas, hosted by the state of Nevada. All I can say is, what a great week of fun, food, entertainment, information, inspiration and socializing!
As usual, one of the big events was the Wednesday night ACB auction. Since I’m on the auction committee, I can give you a little peek behind the scenes.
Planning began almost a year ahead. This was mainly accomplished through once-a-month phone conferences. Our committee of eight was headed by our wonderful coordinator, Leslie Spoone. There was much discussion about the number of items and the length of the auction. Necessary personnel, the “describers,” runners, spotters, door greeters and auctioneers for the event, were lined up.
Some of our items were donated by our state affiliates, who were contacted in May or June. Many items came from ACB members, friends and families.
On the big day, many hours were spent unpacking, sorting and numbering each item. Descriptions, written up earlier, were matched to each item. All this information was also compiled in braille and large print, and put out on large tables for the attendees. Everyone who attended the convention got a numbered ID card. That registration card number was copied to be their bidding tag if they attended the auction.
Here are examples of just some of our items: See’s Candy, Maker’s Mark Whiskey, four or five handmade quilts, Norman Rockwell plates, vacation packages, jewelry, a New York Yankees star hitter Derek Jeter shirt, an antique porcelain doll, and even a Native American peace pipe!
Auction night was held in the “Top of the Riv,” the penthouse of the Riviera Hotel and Casino. Hotel staff provided a cash bar and plenty of food for our enjoyment. The evening officially began at 7 p.m., with a preview available from 6 p.m. Our very capable auctioneers could have given a North Carolina tobacco auctioneer a run for his money. Bidding lasted until well past 11 p.m.!
A few “bidding wars” popped up. The excitement and noise level really picked up during back-and-forth bidding on a black onyx bracelet – which eventually went for $1,000! There was also much excitement about a 4-day Key West vacation package. After much wild bidding, it sold for $1,200! Of course, not everything was that expensive. A cute “Pom-Pom Kitty” went for $35.
The auction brought in $20,000 for ACB. We may, individually, have gone home a bit poorer, cash-wise, but much richer in spirit.