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YMCA gala raises about $38,000

One guest gets an unforgettable birthday present

One guest gets an unforgettable birthday present

February 03, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Al Martin was thinking of playing it safe.

Given the option of going home with a guaranteed $7,000 prize or taking a 50-50 chance at winning a $23,000 car, he was leaning toward the $7,000.

But his wife, Claudia Martin, convinced him to stay in the game.

"We talked about (what we would do) beforehand," Al Martin said. "But I wanted to be sure she still wanted to hang in there. Seven thousand dollars was a lot of money to give up."

Claudia's persistence paid off when the two won the grand prize at the YMCA of Hagerstown's 22nd annual Gala Diamonds and Ice Fundraiser Saturday at the Four Points Sheraton.

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The two left the event the proud owners of a 2008 Volkswagen Jetta.

Sweetening the win even further, Sunday was Claudia's birthday.

"Happy Birthday, dear!" Al Martin said as the two planted themselves in the seats of the new car.

Around 370 people attended the fundraiser. Tickets cost $300 per couple. YMCA Executive Director Mike Flicek said he expected the event to bring in $35,000 to $38,000.

"I think people really like to come out here for a good time, to dress up and take a chance on winning the car," Flicek said. "They don't care if they win or lose. That's what the YMCA is all about."

Event Chairwoman Ellie Doub said proceeds would be used to fund youth programs and to finance membership scholarships. Doub said scholarships were awarded to nearly 900 people last year.

"We look at what people can afford. We'll help with up to 80 percent of the membership cost," Doub said. "It's a real outreach program to the community. This is about people who are able trying to enable people who aren't able. It's a fun way to do it."

Two hundred ticket spots were posted on a large board. Host Lou Scally called out ticket numbers as they were pulled one by one from a barrel and posted to the board, eliminating ticket holders from the running to win the automobile.

Throughout the evening, event volunteers sold chances on the 201st ticket, an opportunity for attendees to get back in the running, for $20 a piece.

When tickets had been pulled down to the final four, the winners of the car at last year's YMCA fundraiser, Sam and Dana Wright, were still in the running.

Aaron Mace won the 201st ticket, earning him a place in the final five.

Dr. David Grimm and his wife, Gwen, were eliminated, and Aaron Mace followed. The Wrights remained among the final three in the running, along with Chuck Waynewright, representing the Learning Center, and Al and Claudia Martin.

An audience member offered the final three $4,000 each to sell their tickets, then others countered with offers of $5,000, then $6,000. The ticket holders declined. The Wrights were eliminated next, and an audience member offered the two remaining $7,000 each, to no avail.

Finally, Wayneright's number was pulled, leaving the Martins the winners.

"(Al) wanted to sell out and I wouldn't let him," Claudia Martin said.

Al Martin, 54, of Hagerstown, is director of finance for the City of Hagerstown. Claudia, 55, said she used to be the child-care director at the YMCA.

"The 'Y' is a wonderful organization and we're very happy to be a part of supporting it," Al Martin said.

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