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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big Grin Fundraiser

I know there are people who frequent charity auctions and fundraising cocktail parties but that's never been my scene. I give to charity, not as much as I should but I do. This one I couldn't pass up.

I blogged about how Joel had a helluva a funeral, and he did. He passed a few days after Christmas, of all things from what actuaries will tell you is the all-too-common 'accident in the home.'

The Big Grin fundraiser, that was a no-brainer coming out of the tithe fund. It's not the first fundraiser that's been conceived for Joel's widow and their two children (one of whom is still gestating). If Joel had been a jerk, his death would still be tragic given what was riding on his shoulders, but of course he wasn't a jerk (if he had been, these loads wouldn't have been on his shoulders in all likelihood).

If you want to help out, there's a site with a convenient PayPal donation setup. A friend, Brian Chasm, who also organizes the Street Cred alleycat classic, also had some sew-on patches made, the first run of which sold out and I think he's close to the end of the second run. Or you could have joined us (if you didn't) at Boulevard Brewery for a beer soaked party.

Joel's mortality really is the greatest offense to decency and good taste I can think of, as Chasm put it, he was a real dick for dying. Consequently, the event sold out. Your ticket got you a couple of drink coupons for modestly sized servings of Boulevard beer, two raffle tickets for assorted bike gear, and entry to the best party in town. There was also a semi-silent auction, and of course you could buy more raffle and drink tickets once inside. Pretty much everything was donated, so the money you parted with mostly went to Michelle and the little Big Grins.

I saw some friends I hadn't seen in a long time, some other friends I see all the time, met some new ones. The acoustics in the room were abysmal but there was a good band. And after a few Boulevards, the acoustics get better actually. And hosting this at Boulevard was brilliant. The click-bait that shows up on Facebook listing countries that lead the world in per capita alcohol consumption, it's usually a list along the lines of 'Moldova, Latvia, Russia, Cyclists, Czech Republic, Belgium...' And I'm sure there are studies somewhere that show the wallet-loosening effects of that alcohol consumption.

I entered all my raffle tickets for a pair of Oakley sunglasses. I had a pair once, they got shredded by my youngest daughter years ago and I've been getting by with Wal-Mart sunglasses ever since. I remember how good the Oakleys were, though. I didn't win them, but I had fun watching other people win stuff they seemed to covet at least as much.

Then the silent auction turned not silent. As in, the last bid on the sheet wasn't the winner, it was the opening bid for a live auction. A couple of guys with huge hearts and deeper pockets than I'll likely ever have got into a bidding war over a frameset and ended up paying almost four times it's retail price. A couple of banners went high, too—as in at least twenty times their wholesale cost. It was really cool to see the hypercompetitive nature of cyclists couple with a worthy cause. I'm pretty sure that frameset went for $100 more than the second bidder had in his bank account, these two guys were just not going to get beat by the other one if they could help it.

I don't know how much was raised, but I bet it sounds like a lot. A lot until you picture trying to raise a couple of kiddos on it with the income restrictions having two wee ones places on a single parent. Yes, I know there are social safety nets, and at one time I fell for the line that the biggest worry was that the net could become a hammock. Don't call me a liberal, but these days I worry more about the net having holes in it or not being big enough to catch those falling on it than I do about someone deciding to relax and take a nap in poverty. I mean, really, a fundraiser like this, even broadly attended and with folks with means vying to out-give each other, can't possibly raise enough, let alone too much.

And I know Michelle to be a frugal, clever and capable person so I'm sure whatever it is will go farther in her hands than it would in, for instance, mine. I suppose it would have been better, if Joel had to die (my best case scenario is he pops out of a cake at the end of this thing and shouts 'fooled ya!'), is if he'd have happened to buy a big fat life insurance policy. But the way Joel lived, the way he touched people in positive ways, the way he twisted their nipples in a way they hated without losing their love for him, the way he was always funny, surprising, and original, those were premiums in another kind of life insurance policy. Not just direct premium payments either, a woman with an enormous Coach handbag who chatted me up, I asked her how she knew Joel and she didn't. She had a neighbor who had raced bikes with him. And not only was she there, but she bought a shit-ton of raffle tickets and the guy she was with bought a raffle prize in an impromptu auction and then donated the prize to someone who actually wanted it. It was a fairly astonishing show of generosity no matter what jaded filter you want to try and view it through.

I've thought a few times that the whole checking on how Michelle is doing thing, the helping out thing, it's pretty easy and obvious now while Joel's loss is fresh. The trick is remembering the challenges will still be there years down the road. And as I was taking a leak preparatory to riding home from the brewery, a guy came in the bathroom and said, 'We're not done.'

It was a pretty emotional evening. There was a tombstone someone donated with a great photo of Joel flipping the bird (his signature way of saying 'I love you') etched into it. Lots of fun in between but several times I found myself choked up. And Michelle seemed like she could just barely handle it, honestly. She's not really someone with a bad case of the look-at-me's to begin with, and I'm sure the moment is far more complex for her than anyone else in the room. I'm sure she wanted Joel to pop out of a cake and shout 'fooled ya!' more than anyone else there. And that he was a dick for dying. And probably a whole bunch of other things, and I'm sure my speculating about these emotions is way out of line and I wish her the best at coping with whatever it is she's actually feeling.

Of course I had fun with my camera, though the lighting was an atrocity even worse than the acoustics of the room (which was designed by whoever came up with the 'basement.' And just as I ran into people who knew they wanted to help even if they hadn't really known Joel, I had to really encourage some people to show me their fingers. And a few refused even with an engraved hunk of marble to show them that really, Joel would want them to flip me off. Then again, I didn't even have to ask at least one person to pull down his pants.

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