BAZETTA — If the cow lifts her tail, someone gets hit with a load of cash.
Cow patty bingo is one of the silly new twists on a serious fundraiser – the 12th Annual War Against Breast Cancer Raffle Auction and Vendor Show – today and Sunday at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.
“It’s kind of a first to attract more visitors on Sunday.” Beth Ann Vanek, co-founder of the fundraiser, said. “The auction and raffle on Saturday is the big thing. We’re trying to get more for Sunday.”
The family-friendly event kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which begins today.
The goal is to raise $15,000 for this year’s War Against Breast Cancer recipient Amanda Sharps-Martin of Southington, a nurse who was diagnosed last year with breast cancer that has since metastasized to her bones and is incurable.
“[Amanda]now faces another surgery, more chemotherapy, extended absence from work, and more medical bills.” said war board member Kelli Weir. “She already endured three surgeries last year, six months of chemotherapy and ten months of missed paychecks.
“Amanda and her husband Josh, a forklift operator at Great Lakes Cheese, have relied on friends and family to get them. The Southington family reaches a financial breaking point.” said Weir.
Sharps-Martin will attend and try to express their gratitude.
“I can’t put this community into words for what they do.” She said. “I don’t know how to say thank you. Thank you is not enough.”
Both days, two food trucks and 40 stalls filled with artisans and small businesses will offer everything from woodwork and metalwork to baked goods and dog treats.
Today’s raffle auction features more than 200 items, highlighted by more than two dozen major prizes available to bid online, including a football autographed by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones; two Great Lakes Theater ticket vouchers; a voucher for the Music Box Supper Club for six people; a 40-inch Smart LED TV; a steel hearth; two tickets for the Kalahari Resort or for Kings Island; and a Barnett Game Crusher crossbow with a multi-reticle scope. Online prizes can be bid at https://app.galabid.com/warforamanda/items.
Entertainment includes the return of bluegrass favorites Crossroads, plus musicians Caleb Gaul and Jordan Smith and Castle on a Cloud Entertainment with princess and superhero characters.
Other highlights include free archery competitions, pumpkin painting, and an on-site mobile mammography cart.
Each year, War Against Breast Cancer selects a recipient from among the applications to receive the proceeds.
Southington’s Vanek was the first recipient in 2011 when the event was highlighted by a three-on-three basketball tournament at Southington Local Schools. She chose to pass it on by keeping the fundraiser going. It grew beyond the school gymnasium and the auction and raffle components were moved to the festival grounds.
This Means War Against Breast Cancer, a non-profit organization, has raised $117,000 since 2011 to help breast cancer survivors pay for their uninsured medical expenses.
“There’s a lot to consider, not just health concerns, but life concerns as well.” Vanek, a nurse, said. Thoughts of how will we be able to afford groceries and will we lose the home are on the minds of patients as unfunded and utility costs soar and wages are lost, she said.
“When I went through that, we had health insurance. I was 30 – we hadn’t saved a lot of resources.” said Wanek. “My daughter was 21 months old. We lost income when I worked. I didn’t qualify for anything because I worked the previous year.”
Income-based grants and allowances are not typically awarded to middle-class patients, as the allowance is calculated on income for the previous year – when the patient was working.
“People like me are at risk of losing their homes. If they hadn’t had a fundraiser for me, we would have perished.” said Vanek and noticed that “the bills keep coming; they don’t stop at the diagnosis.”
It was the community that kept her family going, she said.
Sharps-Martin knows that too. She said her family’s nest egg had run out and sometimes it seemed like there were only pennies left in the bank.
“It comes down to us not being able to buy groceries and then I get a $100 grocery gift certificate in the mail and I don’t even know who it came from. I go to pay for my medication and they tell me it’s paid for and I don’t know who paid for it.” She said.
The volunteer group counts on sponsors to cover costs and provide prizes. Vanek said she’s grateful for more sponsors this year, especially given the loss of a key sponsor.
“Great Lakes Cheese, they’ve always been our biggest sponsor,” said Wanek. “Joshua, Amanda’s husband, works there and they donated directly to the family this year.”
That left a big hole in sponsorship – until new sponsors came on board and more than closed the gap.
“I am always amazed at what God does” said Wanek.
This year’s sponsors include the Mullee Family / Boss Babes LLC, Texas Roadhouse in Niles, MJO Photography, Shaker Painting, Saint-Gobain and the Trumbull County Fair Board.
The community support is also amazing, she said.
“We see that again and again. Every year I am overwhelmed. people want to help. Often they don’t know how to help. “
This gives them a chance to help, she said.
if you go
WHAT: War Against Breast Cancer Raffle Auction and Vendor Show
WHEN: today from 10am to 6pm for the Raffle Auction and Vendor Show; 10am to 4pm Sunday for the vendor show and cowpat bingo.
WHERE: Trumbull County Fairgrounds, 899 Everett Hull Road, Bazetta.
WHY: To raise money for Southington breast cancer survivor Amanda Sharps-Martin to help offset her lost wages and pay her medical expenses out of pocket.
Raffle Auction Items: General item tickets are 2 for $1. Tickets for items worth $100 or more are $1 each and tickets for items $300 or more are $5 each. Online tickets for the Big Ticket items can be purchased at https://app.galabid.com/warforamanda/items. Winners do not need to be present for today’s 6:15pm drawing, which will be streamed live online.
MORE INFORMATION: WarAgainstBreastCancer.webs.com or facebook.com/WarAgainstBreastCancer.