By BETH ALTENA
The day after the holiday where families come together to give thanks will be one where friends, family and the public are asked to gather in a celebration of life and love. The Everybody Love Everybody Stephen May Fundraiser will be held at the Assumption Catholic Church Family Life Center, 6369 Belmont Avenue, on Friday, Nov. 26 from 7 p.m. to midnight. The evening of live entertainment, raffles, a live and silent auction, food, cash bar and evening of activities is in honor of Stephen May, who lost his life this year, but is also in celebration of all he and other young people bring to life. The cost to attend is just $5 for students and $10 for adults, and will include the chance to take home some incredible prizes donated for the auctions. Proceeds go toward a scholarship fund, which will annually be given to a Rockford High School senior who personifies the “Everyone Love Everyone” (ELE) motto that Stephen May was quick to quote.
“This isn’t just for Stephen, it’s for all of them. It’s about life, it’s about loving each other” said organizer Dixie Newell.
Newell said organizers and helpers for the scholarship don’t want people to think Stephen was more important or better than the other young people the Rockford community has lost. “They are all families suffering a terrible loss and absolutely their child is just as important,” she stated. According to Newell, the efforts are more about celebrating the wonderful qualities each young person brings to the world. In Stephen’s case, the memory of him as a peacemaker and his adoption of the phrase, “Everybody Love Everybody,” is just one facet of keeping alive the memory of those we have lost.
Newell said it has been heartwarming to see the community respond to efforts toward the scholarship fund and as a way to help the family during this hard time. A freethrow contest held at the high school raised over $500, a Zumba fundraiser earned the fund another $200, and an event at Timbers Inn added $300. The business community, the public and classmates have been overwhelmingly supportive in donations, participation and acts of kindness, Newell and other organizers have reported. Herman’s Boy stepped up without being asked and is selling a special blend of ELE coffee.
“It’s a ten-dollar item, which I have been buying as gifts for Christmas, for my pediatrician, accountant, my mail carrier, it’s only ten dollars, but it is special,” said Newell. “What can you buy for ten dollars that is special and has meaning?”
Cindy Palmreuter of Double Take Resale heard that the committee was selling t-shirts with the ELE logo on them and offered her store as a place where people can buy them. The shirts are only $8 and $5 goes to the fund.
“[Palmreuter] told me to bring a box over and she would be happy to sell them. When I saw her again, she said I needed to bring another box,” Newell explained.
Newell said the donation items for the live auction items for the fundraiser also show how generous donors have been. Even those who never knew Stephen or his family can attend, both as a way to contribute, but also to try to win once-in-a-lifetime items, including Dathan Ritzenhein’s Beijing Olympic shoes—signed.
A sampling of other items include the following: dinner for six from “Two Men in a Kitchen”; a stay in a cabin in Big Rapids, which sleeps 22; an MSU basketball with Tom Izzo’s autograph; orthodontic care by Ed Young, DDS (a $5,000-plus value); and a private plane fly over. The evening will include live music from The Main Street Band (all Rockford graduates) and Tribune (all Rockford students).
Another of the items has a value of over $5,000, a Silver Medal Hunt at the Sanctuary Ranch that will take place next year, September 13-17, 2011. It is a fully guided, four-day/three-night stay for one hunter at a five-star lodge. All meals and an open bar are included.
The hunter may shoot one buck and can take a guest to stay with him/her for the duration. The package also includes full shoulder mount taxidermy of the buck taken.
The Sanctuary Ranch is the largest commercial hunting operation in Michigan and has entertained celebrities such as Norman Schwarzkopf, Dale Earnhardt Junior and Senior.
“These hunts are for mature, big-bodied trophy bucks,” described the staff of the Sanctuary. “Over the past three years, 90 percent of these trophies qualified for the SCI Record Book and are impressive animals indeed. For most of our guests, this will be the largest whitetail they’ve ever taken and would give them bragging rights at almost any deer camp in the nation. Hunts are scheduled over four days giving clients the opportunity to view and select from a number of different types of bucks. Wide, high, heavy—you name it. If you’re looking for a great deer at a great price, we consider this an extremely attractive option.”
For more information about the Silver Medal Hunt at the Sanctuary Ranch, visit their website at www.sanctuary-ranch.com.
In addition to offering an impressive night of auction items in a friendly setting with good food, the night is sure to be fun for all age groups.
“Because Stephen had so many friends, we made sure there would be plenty for teens to do and have a good time,” Newell stated.
She said D2D Studio donated the use of their photo booth free for the entire evening, and she is sure the kids will be in it, taking pictures they will be able to keep for a lifetime of memories. “They wouldn’t take a dime for it,” Newell said, and added that it is a value of over $700.
Newell said there will be lots of giveaways and “chance” auctions with tickets for just one dollar, so anyone can afford to participate.
“This is about bringing our community together in love,” Newell said. “This was his legacy, that we remember to love each other. I believe that with all my heart. Wouldn’t a lot of the world’s problems be solved if we lived like that?”
Newell said anyone who would still like to make a donation, get tickets ahead of time—which is recommended to avoid waiting in line the night of the event—or find out more, can call her at (616) 874-5571 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Monetary donations may also be sent to Rockford High School, care of the Stephen J. May Scholarship foundation.
Organizers of the ELE Stephen May Scholarship have been thrilled with the generosity of the community in their efforts to create a scholarship fund for future RHS seniors. During a free throw contest held recently, winners included the following: Ten and under boys, Micah Frost (pictured below); 11 to 14 boys, Jared Herald( pictured last); 11 to 14 girls, Morgan Mikowski (pictured to the left); 15 to 18 boys, Kyle Short; 15 to 18 girls, Alyssa Durkin; and Over 18 women, Laurie Pullen-Johnson.
Organizers of the ELE Stephen May Scholarship have been thrilled with the generosity of the community in their efforts to create a scholarship fund for future RHS seniors. During a free throw contest held recently, winners included the following: Ten and under boys, Micah Frost (pictured right); 11 to 14 boys, Jared Herald; 11 to 14 girls, Morgan Mikowski (pictured above); 15 to 18 boys, Kyle Short; 15 to 18 girls, Alyssa Durkin; and Over 18 women, Laurie Pullen-Johnson.