Raising the Bid for Cancer Awareness

By Beacon Staff

Ladies, get out your checkbooks – the first Save a Sister bachelor auction is headed to the Flathead Valley and these guys are prepared to put it on the line to help bring awareness to women in the valley.

On Friday, Oct. 15, there will be 10 bachelors and one local celebrity bachelorette up for bid at the Blue Moon near Columbia Falls. The money raised from these fine fellows will go toward the Save a Sister organization, which provides mammograms and breast ultrasounds for local women.

Each bachelor comes with a prize package worth between $1,000 and $7,000 to help sweeten the deal and involves something the bachelor enjoys, coordinator Dr. Debra Acord said. The prizes were either donated by the bachelors themselves or by local businesses.

For example, the lucky lady who places the winning bid on 34-year-old Ken, a local firefighter, will get to go on a ski date for two on Big Mountain, including lift tickets. Afterwards, they will go on a sleigh ride and have dinner with overnight accommodations at the Bar W Guest Ranch.

Acord said any prize package with an overnight stay has “very separate rooms” for the bachelor and his date.

There is also the possibility of a group bid, like a team of two couples and a bachelorette, on some of the prizes. A date with Karl, a 56-year-old surgeon, comes with a cooking demonstration for a party of six with Chef Andy Blanton of Café Kandahar, followed by a dinner prepared by the chef, with wine pairings.

The dates for multiple people give men a chance to participate, Acord said, and there is also a date with a mystery 24-year-old female as well.

Dr. Sarah Nargi of Whitefish Plastic Surgery will emcee the auction, and Mickey Lapp of Alpine Auctions will be the auctioneer. The party kicks off at 7 p.m., with the bachelors milling around before the auction starts at 8 p.m. Before the bachelors come up for bid, there will be more than 20 other prizes to bid on, Acord said, such as a two-hour sightseeing flight around the valley.

It costs $5 to get in the door, and a bidding paddle costs an additional $5, Acord said. A person must have a bidding paddle to get on the floor closest to the stage, she said. Cash, checks and credit cards are all payment options.

Once the auction is over, the Blue Moon’s house band will take over to keep the party rocking.

“All money that we raise stays right here in the Flathead Valley,” Acord said. “We are so happy because even just doing this, it’s totally increasing awareness.”

Just having the auction on the event list has piqued interest, Acord said, with five women calling Save a Sister to request services last Monday. Since Jan. 1, Save a Sister has provided service to more than 100 woman, she said.

According to Save a Sister, only 42 percent of Montana women over 40 have annual mammograms, while the national average is 70 percent.

Though the program cannot pay for biopsies or procedures – it would drain their funds too quickly – anyone diagnosed through Save a Sister can receive help from the county health department, Acord said.

As one of the eligible bachelors rounded up by the Save a Sister crew to be auctioned off on Friday, Dr. Pete Smith said he was initially a little wary about the idea, but he eventually came around.

Smith, a pathologist, donated his date, which consists of two tickets to Portland to see Jimmy Buffett, along with hotel accommodations and dinner for two.

“I have no idea what to expect in terms of who’s going to bid on me,” Smith said. “Whatever I get I get; it’ll be fun no matter what. You can’t go wrong with Jimmy Buffett.”

Smith has never seen Buffett but has wanted to for some time, and, as a bit of a bonus, landing in Oregon will mean he has visited all 50 states. He was also somewhat taken aback by the enthusiasm about the auction.

Already, several women have told him they’re going to bid on him, and other women have gotten permission from their husbands to buy him, Smith said. There’s also a group of women pooling their resources to try and snag him.

Aside from just doing something new, Smith said he is happy to help the cause. He works with breast cancer patients by reviewing their biopsy slides and knows awareness is key.

“I know how important it is,” Smith said. “I’m happy I’m doing it.”

For profiles on each bachelor, visit www.nwhc.org/foundation or check out the insert in this Beacon. For more information or to contact Save a Sister, call 751-7524 or 1-877-399-0384 or e-mail [email protected].

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