Donors, Pirate Club Enjoyed
a Busy Weekend Raising Money

by Eric Gilmore

Bigger really is better. In terms of raising money, Dennis Young and his Pirate Club associates live the mantra every day. They are forced with the duty to pry money away from donors. On Saturday night, there wasn’t much prying. Instead, there was a steady flow of checks and money from big time donors.

It was a big and busy weekend for donors. Dedication preceded the final regular season baseball game in Lewis Field at Clark-LeClair Stadium. The face plaques of donors that made a pledge over $25,000 are a nice touch for families and organizations that gave so much to make it happen.

It was appropriate that the donors shared the field with former manager Keith LeClair. LeClair’s vision and personality is the primary reason the new stadium now stands in place of the old Harrington Field.

After the baseball game, the donors were shipped away to the annual Pirate Club auction. Williams Arena was transformed into a purple and gold palace housing every feasible item under the sun including grandfather clocks and exercise bikes.

During the silent auction, donors received bid numbers and were competing with items from an Alice Cooper signed guitar to free tanning for a year. Local establishments provided heavy hors d’oeuvres while donors socialized. Some donors got prized items at a severe discount while others happily paid a little more than the listed value.

At 8 pm, the silent auction was shut down and donors were filtered into the live auction. Donors were getting into bidding wars over fishing trips and weekend vacations. Wives were spending lavishly and their husbands didn’t seem to mind.

Two donors will be receiving a visit from ole Saint Nick himself around Christmas time for a mere $800. Two signed Billy Richardson jerseys auctioned off by a persistent Randy Mazey went for $900 apiece. A shadow box with a baseball and a message from Keith LeClair auctioned off by his father went in the $3,000 range. Some of the vacations and specialty items cost donors in excess of $6,000.

With all of the items added together, the live auction alone raised nearly $72,000. Although the Pirate Club has yet to finish analyzing the data, estimates of gross profit ranged close to $120,000. The final figure more than exceeded the original $100,000 goal.

The ECU athletic program now stands at roughly $1.2 million in the hole. To combat the issue, the Pirates only need to have nine more auctions. Realistically though, these donors like Walter and Marie Williams are hoping to jump-start a new trend where ECU will be able to fully cover athletic scholarship costs.

Most of the credit for Saturday’s success should go to Shannon Padrick. Padrick is the special events planner for the Pirate Club and organized both the baseball dedication and the auction. Padrick and Lucas Stuckey among other volunteers worked tirelessly around the clock contacting businesses, setting up decorations and making sure donors received their items.

With the state of ECU’s athletic program in a flux, the Pirate Nation made their collective voice heard. It was a loud and bold statement towards the Division I landscape. Despite the losses and frustration on the field, Pirates are resilient and will bounce back. All it takes is a little money, and the bigger the better.

Eric Gilmore