By Jason D. Mills
It’s a fate no parent ever wants to face, but it’s something that tens of thousands of families face each year – serious childhood illness.
Children, often too young to speak, many times cannot express exactly what ails them, which can make diagnosis go from difficult to nearly impossible. This coupled with the high cost of specialty medical care in the United States can make an already stressful situation go from challenging to emotionally crushing.
This is where St. Jude Children’s Hospital tries to help. Despite the more than 65 thousand children they see annually, no family is ever sent a bill and every patient is given top-level care and attention.
This is part of the reason why the administrators at TradGang.com, an online traditional archery forum, decided to hold an annual auction to benefit the children’s hospital. Started in 2004, the members of the forum have raised more than $735 thousand to date.
This year they are hoping to donate at least another $75 thousand more, but Terry Green, a site administrator, explained that the economy isn’t what it was when the annual auction was founded. He said that he isn’t sure if the turnout will be as pronounced this year.
However, he said that, “The kids are sick regardless of the economy” and that they will hold the auction as long as the traditional archery community is willing to give.
So far, this has been a great system and everyone has benefited. However, it takes a massive amount of work.
The auction had such a huge influx of participants the administrators had to setup on a different server. Green explained that between everyone involved there are hundreds of man hours donated before a single item ever gets shipped.
Each year a group of administrators get together and donate their time to run a benefit auction , where 100% of all proceeds are donated directly to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The members of the forum will donate items to the auction and then other members will bid on those items.
“I had seen it done on another website and a member suggested doing it on TradGang,” said Green, on the initial motivation to have the auction . “Now, we’re one of their biggest annual donors.”
In fact, Doug Campbell, another administrator of the site, visited St. Jude to accept an award on behalf of TradGang, which recognized them as one of the hospitals largest donors. The site even made it onto the hospital’s wall of fame, which proves that even the smallest donation – when combined with the strength of others – can make a huge difference.
Green explained that no one from the site ever touches the money; everything goes directly to St. Jude Children’s hospital.
The auction features everything from custom bows to home made cookies.
“It’s a lot of fun, there’s some bantering that goes back and forth,” Green explained. “We had a lady donate two dozen cookies and one guy bid a pretty large amount and another guy got some buddies together to out bid him.”
Things ended up escalating and the two dozen cookies ended up going for a whopping $6,000. The next year? The same two bidders went at it again and a pound cake went for $7,000.
“Donate whatever you want to donate; we take anything but firearms and ammunition. I’d just like to encourage folks to visit and bid high,” Green said. “One hundred percent goes to the kids.”