There are many ways to describe the notion of being honored with the sale of a stuffed buffalo head. Some might call it strange or unusual. Outsiders would probably call it a little crazy.
Organizers of the Barton Community College Foundation Auction see it as a meaningful gesture of gratitude that recognizes years, or in the case of this year’s honorarium, generations, of support. The 2012 Old Bill Honorarium recognizes the Koelsch family: Ron Koelsch, his wife, Debbie and Ron’s mother, June Koelsch. Ron and Debbie are fourth-generation owners of a large family farm operation east of Great Bend. The Koelsches have long supported the efforts of the Barton Foundation, and many family members even have scholarships in their names.
“The Foundation supports so many students and helps educate many who might not get to attend college if it wasn’t for scholarships,” Ron said of the primary reason for his continued support. “I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the Foundation Auction and its other activities. It’s a lot of fun.”
Debbie said she looks forward to the auction each year, as both a social event and an opportunity to help those in need.
“We have a really good time,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for friends and community members to get together to raise money for a good cause.”
In addition to supporting the college, many Koelsches have attended Barton in pursuit of their degrees, including Ron and Debbie’s two children.
“It’s a huge benefit for kids,” Debbie added. “We’re lucky to have a community college here in town, especially with the cost of school today.”
As a counselor for USD 428, Debbie said she also encourages the local high school students to make use of Barton’s affordable classes before moving on to a university.
The Koelsches will be present at the Barton Foundation’s 34th Annual Big Benefit Auction, which is set for Sept. 29 at the Knights of Columbus building, 723 Main St. in Great Bend. Tickets for the auction, themed “Pigskin Pandemonium,” are still available through Sept. 22.
They can be purchased for $30 each or $240 per table of eight by calling the Foundation office at (620) 786-1136, or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The auction is the Foundation’s main fundraiser for academic scholarships and program enhancements. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the live auction starts at 8 p.m.
Both the live and silent auctions will feature paintings, photographs and ceramics by area artists, many of whom teach at Barton. A few of the live auction items include:
• Kansas City Chiefs Weekend Getaway: Two tickets on the 50 yard line to the Nov. 18 Cincinnati Bengals game, with two nights at the historic Aladdin Hotel and $300 in gift cards for shopping in the Plaza area.
• Prime Rib dinner for 16: Served on Dec. 3 in the Shafer Art Gallery surrounded by beautifully decorated Christmas trees. This item includes admission to the annual Christmas Concert following the dinner.
• Las Vegas Super Bowl Weekend Getaway: Three nights (Feb. 1, 2, and 3) at the Excalibur Hotel and roundtrip airfare from Wichita.
• Dallas Cowboys Weekend Getaway: Two tickets and two nights in a hotel to see Dallas versus the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 18 in Arlington, Texas.
• Barton Sports Package: Two reserved season seats and one reserved parking spot; basketballs signed by the girls and boys 2012-13 basketball teams.
• Brown Leather Jansport Great Bend Backpack: one of only six unique bags designed by Skip Yowell.
• Football autographed by Head K-State Football Coach Bill Snyder
• K-State Wildcats Getaway: Two tickets to the K-State versus Texas Tech football game on October 27. One night stay at the Morning Star Bed and Breakfast in Manhattan.