On Saturday, September 23, hundreds of artists, activists, and volunteers gathered at The Asheville Event Centre to fundraise and friendraise for a worthy cause.
The Raise Your Hand Auction & Gala is one of the biggest nights of the year for both WNCAP and Western North Carolina, and this year was no exception. The night was filled with music, laughter, gourmet food and beverages, and of course bidding. Hundreds of pieces of art, antiques, jewelry, apparel and fine wine were sold to the highest bidder, with all proceeds directly benefiting HIV prevention, treatment, and advocacy in our community.
The evening began with a cocktail hour and a silent auction. Attendees came dressed to the nines ready to scribble down their highest offer for a variety of exquisite items. Local deejays Josh Michael and Ariel Rymer of STAR 104.3 FM hyped up the crowd with descriptions of the items as well as a few fun raffles that raised even more money for HIV/AIDS.
As the silent auction ended, guests drifted into the cavernous dining room of the Event Centre where they were treated to a gourmet meal by acclaimed Strada Italiano Chef Anthony Cerrato. Throughout dinner, prominent community members addressed the assembly, including the Mayor of Asheville, Esther Manheimer. Raise Your Hand Honorary Chairman David Gantt delivered a moving speech where he celebrated the political courage of WNCAP and early AIDS activists and spoke frankly about the present urgency of HIV advocacy in the current political climate.
Finally, Andrew Brunk of Brunk Auctions took the stage to conduct a vibrantly exciting Live Auction. Guests from all corners of the room raised their hands to bid on over a dozen high value items. During the auction, Chef Eric Sheffer of Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian stood up and shouted that he would give away two Argentinian Asado five course meals, opening the door for a second major donation to WNCAP. Likewise, Michael Brodnax and Tony Schlarb, donating a two week stay in their stunning Italian villa, announced that they would donate a second two week stay as long as the first donor bid at least $6,000. A generous bidder stepped up to the plate, allowing WNCAP to raise twice the money!
The generosity of our donors is only matched by the creativity of our artists and the passion of our volunteers. It was a big night for all WNCAP staff and volunteers who participated, and they met the moment perfectly. Thank you so much to everyone who gave their money, time, or art to Raise Your Hand. Your contribution will improve the lives of countless people in our community, and perhaps even save a life.