It’s all in good fun, Bobby Beane says: when it comes to his absolute glee at eliminating Texas Reverse Draw Down contestants from their chance at $5,000, it’s all part of the show.
“I had a great time,” he laughs: “It’s a fun way to do donations. I think that’s the way people take it – it’s for a good cause.”
The second annual draw down event netted about $8,000 Friday evening, all of it headed to the Kilgore Boys & Girls Club thanks to supporters who sat down for a steak dinner and a chance to be, one-by-one, mercilessly teased by Beane and co-emcee Bill Woodall.
“I guess I’m the bad guy,” Beane chuckled. Granted: “Bill pushed me into that. He asked me to help.”
‘Help’ came in announcing which unlucky donors were being pulled out of the spinning drum in the Texan Theater. There were 99 tickets, $100 each, sold for a chance at the $5,000 prize Aug. 17 – a final Ticket No. 100 was raffled, helping garner even more charity dollars for the local youth outreach.
“With sponsorships and everything, I think we’re probably going to make about $8,000, which is more than anticipated,” said co-organizer Pam DeCeault, spearheading event-planning with Charla Rolph, who hosted the night in the newly-revitalized downtown theater. Notably, “We had additional sponsorships this year we didn’t have last year,” plus a 51-card pay-to-play bonus game to net another $500 for the coffers.
Last year’s after-expenses take was $7,000, so DeCeault’s happy to see a bump in the final tally.
“Which is not quite one month’s operating budget, by the way,” she noted. The Rusk County Boys & Girls Club – Kilgore Unit’s monthly are a bit more: “It takes us about $10,000 to $12,000 a month to operate.
“I’m very pleased with the result. Everybody seemed to have a good time. The food was wonderful. The venue was absolutely marvelous.”
With the cost of steaks covered by three sponsors – Citizens National Bank, Republic Services and SWEPCO – the evening's entrée was cooked by volunteers Kenny Mobbs and Larry Kincaid. Potatoes and salads were provided by Rachel Brian while The Lunch Lady donated the night's desserts.
The club’s board members and other volunteers contributed as servers to the 100-or-so guests before Beane and Woodall started culling the contestants.
“People love it. I think it went very well, I think everybody was very pleased,” said board member Elsa Selleck. “It was a sweet and easy event. It was the second year we did it, and we got really good feedback. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
That’s the audience’s take, Rolph added.
“The last question we ask them that evening: Do you want to do it again next year?’ I think the consensus again was ‘Yes.’ I’ve got nothing but good feedback from the participants,” she said. “That nets a lot of money to be thankful for, for Boys & Girls Club, since charitable donations are hard to come by these days.”
By the time the hosts whittled down 100 tickets to five, the remaining competitors were ready for the safe bet: Joey DeGraffenried, James Murphy, Kenneth Plunk, Danny Strickland (proxy for Mark Carpenter) and Ann Thrower agreed to take $1,000 each rather than risk four being eliminated.
“Never in a million years would I have thought Ann would be in the last five again,” Beane joked: she finished in the money last August, too. Beane said he definitely felt the spotlight Friday: “Everybody sure pays attention when they’re not out yet.”
The board – and the boys and girls of the club – are grateful, DeCeault said.
“I just thank the community for their support and for the hard work of those working on then Texan,” she added. “We couldn’t operate the club without, first of all, without volunteers, without the community, without the people who attend fundraisers.
“Volunteer hours and community support, other than monetarily, is invaluable and necessary. Imperative.”