Bob Frye: RMEF Three Rivers Chapter banquet features $10,000 raffle
Someone's going to go to bed very happy on the night of Feb. 24.
They'll have at least 10,000 reasons to smile, after all.
Call it an attempt to stand out from the crowd.
Winter, of course, is banquet season. Sportsmen's and shooting organizations — the Ruffed Grouse Society, Friends of NRA, Whitetails Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, among others — hold fundraising events that typically include dinner and games, from live and silent auctions to raffles.
The money generated supports youth field days, land acquisition, fish and wildlife habitat management and the like, locally and nationally.
Things are no different with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or the RMEF, as it's known.
Except in one case this year.
The Three Rivers Chapter of that group is holding its 29th annual banquet Feb. 24 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Mars. Would-be attendees — the chapter is expecting 600 or so — can buy individual tickets or a table's worth at a time.
But this year there's also something new.
The chapter is selling 250 tickets — at $100 each — for a special raffle. Each ticket has four three-digit numbers.
If the number on one of those tickets matches the lottery number drawn at 7 p.m., the holder wins $10,000. If the lottery number doesn't match any of the tickets, event organizers will draw three numbered ping pong balls — one each from three buckets — until a winner is determined.
“Someone's leaving with $10,000 that night,” said James Abbott, one of the event organizers. “Absolutely.”
Winners don't have to be present to win.
But it might be worth their while.
There's a potential bonus. Abbott said if the ticker holder is at the banquet, he or she wins another $2,000.
Time to get involved is running out, though.
The chapter has sold about 200 tickets so far. The rest are still up for grabs.
Some are buying tickets for themselves, Abbott said. Others are splitting the cost and buying them with friends or family members. All are helping conservation and the outdoor sports.
The chapter has a long history of success in Pennsylvania.
It was the first Elk Foundation chapter in the country to pass the $1 million mark in money raised. It annually ranks in the top 25 nationally for fundraising.
“And we hope this is the year we go over $4 million raised. We're that close,” Abbott said.
The $10,000 raffle may just do it.
“We're trying to stir up interest however and whenever we can. I dreamed this up maybe two months ago,” Abbott said. “Now I wish I'd thought of this a long time ago.”
Tickets to the banquet itself are available by contacting Tammy Mowry at 724-822-7390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets for the $10,000 raffle specifically are available by contacting Abbott at RMEF_10KRaffle@yahoo.com.
Involvement is important, one way or the other.
It's not just about elk, after all, Abbott noted.
Last year, proceeds went to help sportsmen with 24 projects in counties from Allegheny, Armstrong, Westmoreland and Fayette to Potter, Tioga, Philadelphia and Sullivan. Funding supported junior rifle and sporting clays teams, youth field days, a master naturalist program and more.
“There's a lot of money spent here,” Abbott said. “Hopefully this raffle helps us continue that work.”