Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Sean Ahlum helps auction off an alaia surfboard donated by Engrain Surfboards at the third annual FOR (Friends of the Reserve) Masonboro fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 28.
Rainy weather, wind gusts of up to 30 mph and thumping waves provided the backdrop for Friends of the Reserve’s third fundraising gala at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort on Oct. 28, but that didn’t keep the spirit down.
“It was a terrific event,” said Joanne Harcke, conservation and research coordinator for the Fort Fisher Aquarium.
“We had quite a crowd and we were really pleased with the turnout.” Harcke said.
The Dylan Holton Band played lounge music in the lobby of the Blockade Runner as visitors browsed the silent auction, which featured a variety of donated artwork and goods from around Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington. All of the items up for auction sold, but two days following the event, the total amount raised from the silent auction had not yet been calculated.
Auctioneer Ken Beasely led the live auction, which raised $3,100 for FOR. Items auctioned included a traditional Hawaiian alaia surfboard, an ASP standup paddleboard, a week-long vacation at a Wrightsville Beach home and a sea turtle sculpture made by Susan Tharin, owner of Airlie Art Glass.
The Surfrider Foundation, which stood alongside Hope From Helen as one of the headlining sponsors of the event, conducted a 50/50 raffle, which awarded $145 to the winner.
New to the gala this year were kids’ activities. Staff members from the Fort Fisher Aquarium were on site to educate children about sea life in coastal North Carolina and provide information about the aquarium’s events while children painted T-shirts with marine science instructor Cissie Brooks from Wrightsville Beach School and munched on popcorn, chicken fingers and French fries.
Event organizer Lisa Weeks said she thinks the timing of the event was a little off for the kids, falling between Wrightsville Beach School’s fall festival on Friday and Halloween on Wednesday, but “the ones who showed up had a ball.”
FOR is a nonprofit group of people who love Masonboro Island and want to see it protected. It works closely with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and the North Carolina Estuary Research Reserve, conducting various fundraisers and seeking donations to raise money for a variety of research and conservation efforts.
Proceeds from the 2012 gala will go toward sea turtle conservation efforts on Masonboro — including helping to pay a part-time project coordinator and providing paid internships for University of North Carolina Wilmington students — and the installation of educational signs around Masonboro. A portion will also be set aside for an endowment fund to ensure future funding for the organization.