Under the Big Top StudentsWhen it works, you keep a good thing going.  Each February for the past 25 years, students in The School of Hospitality Business at MSU have teamed with The School’s very generous alumni to produce the fundraising Destination Auction.

This year’s Destination Auction on Saturday, February 20, 2016 returned to the “Under the Big Top” circus theme of the original Auction 25 years ago, and it broke all previous records in funds raised.

MSU and surrounding community members filled the Big Ten rooms at the Kellogg Center on campus to bid in the Silent Auction, which included unique gift items, sports memorabilia, and travel packages. The Live Auction was just as enticing, featuring over 100 elaborate packages: hotel and resort accommodations, many paired with fabulous dining experiences, golf vacations, and/or tickets to theme parks, sports events, museums, and even zoos.  All items were donated by generous alumni and friends of The School.

“It is a testament to our alumni that packages come from so many,” says Auction Alumni Advisor Chuck Day (BA ’91). “And there are a few who tap into their networks to provide dozens and dozens of packages – they are truly our auction angels, and have been for many years.”

For all of the past 25 years, Bob Howe and his Epic Auctions and Estate Sales have delivered a fast-paced, energized evening that has helped raise funds for The School and for the two local charities chosen by the students.  This year the MSUFCU Institute for Arts and Creativity at the Wharton Center and the Junior League of Lansing received a portion of the evening’s earnings.  As with last year, Epic Auctions made it easy to participate off-site by encouraging bidders to bid online.

The event is planned for a whole year by a dedicated student executive board, led this year by CEO Sammi Miller (BA ’16), COO Kristie Duve (BA ’16), and CFO Monica Blaze (BA ’16). They were joined on Saturday by hundreds of student volunteers.  Assisting every step of the way were Auction Advisors Chuck Day (BA ’91), Mike Rice (BA ’91), and instructor Barry Latoszewski. Mike says, “This year’s Auction exceeded our highest expectations, both in the value of the packages donated and in the amount raised from bidders, sponsorships, door donations, and our raffle.  This success is the result of many people working together and giving back.”

MSU Trustee Melanie Foster, who attended Destination Auction, enthusiastically praised the entire effort, saying, “What an exciting evening! Students were engaged and professional at the Silent Auction tables and refreshment areas. The Live Auction presented amazing possibilities for future travel.  It took a lot of time, coordination, and generosity on the part of the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of The School to host such a tremendous evening.  Congratulations!”

“We are proud to be a part of a successful 25-year tradition in our School,” says Sammi, whose father Dan is the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Lions broadcasts, and has been the Celebrity MC for Destination Auction for the past three years. “The funds raised are used to support students, but just as important is the learning experience we get in organizing and producing what amounts to a complex business operation.”

The evening included a special reception for the members of the Junior League of Lansing. Bidders were encouraged to make a $10 donation at the door, and free food and non-alcoholic beverages were available, as well as a cash bar.  A 50/50 raffle was won by The School’s 2013 Emerging Alumnus of the Year Matt Anderson (BA ’09).

Some of this year’s featured Destination Auction items included the following:

  • Two night stay at the Westin Boston Waterfront and two tickets to the Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox game, plus Detroit Tigers’ #35 Justin Verlander autographed jersey
  • Four night stay at a Disney Resort with two four-day “Magic Your Way” park hopper admissions in Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • Two night stay at the storied Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Two night stay in a king room including breakfast for two in the Laurel Court at the Fairmont San Francisco in San Francisco, plus a $25 gift card to SusieCakes
  • Two night stay in a double luxury room at The Loews Regency Hotel in New York City and a $100 gift card for any Hillstone Restaurant
  • Four night stay for two guests at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. Included are breakfast each morning at Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Café; dinner for each guest one evening at Deseo Specialty Restaurant; a golf twosome at Kierland Golf Club; one 50-minute spa treatment at the Agave, The Arizona Spa; and a one-hour FlowRider session for each guest
  • Two night stay at The Blackstone, A Renaissance Hotel in Chicago, IL, plus a gift certificate for two guests to attend an upcoming demonstration cooking class at Eataly Chicago’s cooking school and a $50 gift certificate to Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Shaw’s Crab House RestaurantFor more information about Destination Auction: Under the Big Top, visit: http://www.msudestinationauction.com.