On Saturday, March 5, 2016, Rauch hosted its 16th annual Imagine Awards gala. The Imagine Awards benefit the Rauch Foundation and would not be possible without the very generous support of Title Sponsor Horizon Wealth Management.
Rauch was poised to have its most successful event ever, with a record crowd, more sponsors than ever before, and many high-quality, diverse silent auction items.
The attendees began the evening with cocktails and appetizers, and the program began with an invocation by long-time volunteer and supporter Timothy Naville. "Working Hard at Rauch," a video created by former intern Darian Eswine, helped bring Rauch's important work on behalf of people with disabilities to light and focus the crowd.
After the close of the silent auction, entertainer Rion Paige took the stage. She had crafted a message to compliment the night, telling her story of triumph and inspiring the attendees to be a part of Rauch's work to create a community where everyone belongs. The crowd was amazed that someone with such a big voice was, in fact, only 15 years old.
When Rion took her final bow, the winning ticket for a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 package donated by Custom Computers and Consulting was drawn.
Then, it was on to what turned out to be the most amazing live auction Rauch has ever hosted.
Shaun Logsdon of The Logsdon Group got the crowd warmed up with competition for a week's stay in Panama City Beach and an exclusive tour and tasting package with Woodford Reserve's Master Taster.
The most incredible live auction item, however, was something far more meaningful to individuals who receive Rauch services. Prior to the evening, Rauch had raised $173,972 in grants and donations toward five wheelchair-accessible vans. This left Rauch with $34,136 to complete the total $208,108 needed to purchase the vans ($6,827 per van).
Rauch had tied in the importance of transportation to individuals in its programs and services with table tents and event PowerPoint features showcasing favorite destinations visited in Rauch's vans. The attendees had the pleasure of "meeting" Brett, Trathen, Una, Michelle, and many other fellow community members.
Having never asked something of this magnitude of the Imagine Awards attendees, Rauch had modest expectations. If funds to buy two of these five vehicles were acquired, the staff and board members would have been delighted.
The importance of this equipment was made tangible through Shaun's impassioned presentation, and a video crafted for the occasion, "On the Road with Rauch."
This goal of funding two vans came to fruition quickly, with a leading $6,800 bid from Dr. Joseph Fleck, Rauch, Inc. board member and 2013 Imagine Award recipient. Next, Mike Kelley (Rauch, Inc. board member) and Dennis Ott (Rauch Foundation board member) teamed up to split a $7,000 bid.
From there, a total of 80 donors pitched in to support the cause, ultimately soaring past the $34,136 goal to more than $46,000 in contributions. Each donor received a miniature van emblazoned with a logo that proudly stated, "I helped Rauch keep rolling!" and decorated with a miniature glow stick to symbolize the light they had brought into the lives of people with disabilities in our Southern Indiana community.
The evening closed with the presentation of the 2016 Imagine Awards to honorees David DeSanctis, Lucy VonRoenn, and Tasman Natural Pet. Videos of the honorees can be viewed at www.youtube.com/rauchinc. All three honorees gave passionate and inspiring acceptance speeches that provided the perfect culmination for an inspiring evening.
The ultimate net proceeds of the evening were nearly $90,000, over double the previous best year ever. Rauch couldn't have achieved such a resounding success without auctioneer Shaun Logsdon and his team, Rauch staff and volunteers, the agency's important mission, and most importantly - so many incredibly generous supporters. "Thank you" does not do justice to such an incredible evening.
As one attendee stated, "It wasn't an event - it was a happening."