$500 for a cake might sound a little steep – but not to the buyers at Pete’s Auction Service in Madison, VA, at a benefit auction for the Virginia Institute of Autism.
On Saturday, April 25, shoppers at Pete’s Auction Service bid against each other on homemade cakes, a Harley Davidson, crystal and antique furniture, and worked together to raise $40,590 for VIA.
“We were surprised at the grand total and astonished we did so well,” said VIA mom Mandy Brown, who organized the auction with her parents, Jane and Pete Elliott. “Our hearts were filled with joy as tears dropped from our eyes knowing that so many would benefit from it!”
Mandy’s son, Elliott, came to VIA in January.
“We did the sale because, in the few short months Elliott has been at VIA, we can already see growth and major improvements in his behaviors,” said Mandy. “We felt that our business was a way to raise money to help Elliott and others at VIA who need and deserve it.”
The staff at Pete’s Auction Service donated their time to the auction, and the community showed their support by bidding high on auction items, which were all donated.
Every homemade cake and pie sparked a bidding war and brought in hundreds of dollars. Each time, the winner would donate it back so Pete could auction it off again to another high-paying bidder. The winner of the last cake, which went for $500, donated it back to Pete and Jane Elliott as a thank you gift for hosting the auction (he, too, has a personal connection to autism).
The big ticket item of the day was a Harley Davidson motorcycle, donated by another VIA mom, Jocelynn Helmbrecht.
Jocelynn said the auction was the perfect way to honor her son, Wesley, and his dad, who died four years ago.
“The motorcycle was a special bond between the two of them,” explained Jocelynn. “Gary would actually put Wesley on the back seat and use bungee cords to strap him in. He would then carefully drive the motorcycle up the street and back. Wesley would scream and his arms with flail and his legs would kick. They would turn the music up loud. He absolutely loved it. I, of course, held my breath until they came home.”
As they worked together on the auction, Jocelynn and Mandy realized they had a lot in common.
“I found out that our children are in the same class and she too is a widow,” said Mandy. “It touched me when she shared a great memory of her husband and Wesley on the bike together.”
“We are also both extraordinarily grateful to have our boys at the Virginia Institute of Autism,” said Jocelynn. “It is always so reassuring to know someone who lives in my world.”
For both families, the auction was a way to say thank you.
“I wish I could express the change that has occurred in Wesley because of VIA,” said Jocelynn. “I don’t have a lot of time to volunteer there. I certainly don’t have money to donate. For me the motorcycle really was about being able to, in some small way, give to a school that has given me a miracle.”
Now it’s our turn to say thank you for the miracles that will come from this wonderful auction.
Thank you to Jane and Pete Elliott for opening their doors for VIA, and for opening doors for our students.
Thank you to Mandy and Elliott Brown for inspiring their community.
Thank you to Jocelynn Helmbrecht for honoring her family by giving back to VIA.
And thank you to everyone who supported the auction! Every bid made a difference. Thank you for creating miracles for families affected by autism!
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