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Thursday, November 23, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsA Day with Walker: The auction item that nearly got away

A Day with Walker: The auction item that nearly got away

Photo of YMCA combat fishing tournament
Photo of YMCA combat fishing tournament

JBER photo of 2015 YMCA Combat Fishing Tournament in Seward.

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.

Hawkins

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.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • That is why most appearances are staged events, so a politician is not embarrassed. It was nice of the Gov. to do this but how many students have 5 k to spend on something like this? He is the face of the government that is making things more expensive for students. Maybe a company could have bid and picked a student by lottery.

  • This did not make the ADN.

  • Tells you what people think of him!

  • Thanks Suzanne. Thanks for reporting what ADN and the other fake news won’t report. And we are discovering as citizens, there are a lot of important stories that are omitted by design, and we are getting degusted and doing something about it. A lot of us in Homer are now reading Must Read Alaska. As to the readers, please do your part and clink on the Donate button and help Suzanne continue to be our voice. I also got my 92 year old mother to cancel her ADN subscription after years of reading that fraud of a publication. I am also working on others to do the same. The good news is I hear other people are figuring this out and doing the same. GO AWAY ADN…

  • Since the Gov. put himself up for auction, I would pay $7500.00 if he would leave office—–for good!

  • As the founder of the Combat Fishing Tournament and one of the hosts for the ASYMCA Tournament fundraiser I would like to take a moment to comment on this article. First, while I may not agree with Governor Walkers politics, I must say that his sincere effort to help our organization raise money for our event was greatly appreciated. He did in fact just pop in on us and explained that he couldn’t stay long. He left long before the actual bidding had started. Times are hard and it was evident not only in Governor Walkers auction offering, but in everything we auctioned Thursday night. We raised $1,000 thanks to Governor Walkers efforts. While that might not seem like much to some people, it’s a great deal to our Combat Fishing Tournament and we are grateful! We need every dime we can get! We have always tried to separate politics from our event. It’s not about politics, it’s about showing our appreciation for those that serve. For anyone criticizing Governor Walker for what he did for our organization on Thursday night, I’d encourage you to visit our website at http://www.thankthem.org and make a donation just like the Governor did! I think I speak for all of us that contribute our time, money and great efforts to this awesome event when I say, please keep the political strife and criticism away. Our troops deserve better! Thank you!