On Thursday night, the Armed Services YMCA hosted its annual auction to raise funds to support programs for active duty, guard, and reserve military members stationed in Alaska.
The auction was specifically for the YMCA’s Combat Fishing Tournament, which is held in Seward, offering members of the U.S. Armed Services a chance to go fishing for a day.
At the Hard Rock Cafe, the auction was typical in every way for an Anchorage fundraiser — it included live and silent auctions, bucket raffles, and a cash bar. For 11 years it’s been a typically pro-military, pro-outdoors, and pro-conservative crowd, but it’s never been a political event.
But then Gov. Bill Walker showed up unannounced during the evening and offered himself up as an auction item.
Walker announced to organizers that he’d allow some Alaska student to shadow him for a day in either his Juneau or his Anchorage office. What were the auction sponsors to do? The state’s top politician had offered himself up to raise money for the YMCA. Do you tell the governor no?
The bidding was started at $7,500. It was a little awkward, as there were no takers.
The auctioneer dropped it down to $5,000. Still…crickets…
Now things were a bit more uncomfortable.
Come on, the auctioneer said, this is your governor. By then, Walker had left the building.
The price dropped to $2,500. And still no bids.
Finally, when the price dropped to $1,000, someone in the audience put the item out of its misery and bid on it. When the auctioneer tried to inch it back up to $1,050, he could get no one to bite.
The combat fishing tournament costs tens of thousands to put on. Charter boats in Seward donate their vessels for the event, so the Armed Services YMCA can meet its goal of taking 200 to 250 service people to Seward. They get them out for a day of epic fishing, serve them lunch and dinner at a banquet and transport them all back home.
Whatever is left over from auction supports the 20 different Armed Services YMCA programs, such as free child care at the hospital, on-base transportation, and the food pantry.