Buffalo Island St. Jude dinner/auction raises $240,000

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Approximately 1,000 people attended the third annual Buffalo Island St. Jude dinner/auction.

No parking and long lines are usually a problem but it was a good problem to have as the third annual Buffalo Island St. Jude dinner/auction drew a record crowd on Saturday, Feb. 8. The event was held at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Monette.

The parking area overflowed and the church bus served as a shuttle from Buffalo Island Central School parking lot to the church.

People were not there looking for a bargain, they were there to give. The event raised $240,000 with all proceeds going to St. Jude Research Center.

Ready to start the auction.

This is the third successful auction thanks to the generosity of the community. The first year the event raised $125,000 and the second event raised $185,000.

The Buffalo Island St. Jude event was started by the family and friends of a young girl, Scout Lyerly, who is now five years old. She was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at 20 months of age and became a patient at St. Jude. The auction/dinner was their way to help give back to St. Jude.

Scout's grandfather, Steve Cobb, welcomed everyone at the Saturday event.

"We are overwhelmed," Mr. Cobb said. "We thank you. Before we ever get started tonight, I just want you to know that through the caring and sharing of you and others, we have already raised $7,000 before the auction begins."

A fish dinner was prepared by men from the John 3:16 Ministries.

Scout's mother, Leslie Lyerly, and another mother, Andrea Crawford, mother of Noah Cook, a young man who lost his battle to cancer last year, both shared their experiences with St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Both told how not only their children, but the entire family, is cared for at St. Jude and how St. Jude and the staff give hope when all looks hopeless. They told how no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude. A large portion of their operating money comes from fundraisers such as the one held at Monette.

"I thought my daughter had a splinter in her foot," Leslie said. "Within a week we were told she had cancer and she only a 20 percent chance of survival. We were advised by a family friend to get her to St. Jude. When we walked in there in 2010 she got a number, but she was not a number. We felt the hope when we walked through the door."

Lesley talked about the surgeries and treatments and the time spent at St. Jude.

"We are thankful for the prayers and support," Leslie said. "We ask for your continued prayers."

Mr. Cobb talked about young Noah Cook who passed away in November. This year's event was dedicated to the memory of Noah.

Noah's mother shared his story from his first diagnoses of leukemia at the age of 14 in April 2012 through his treatments and care at St. Jude.

"There are families at St. Jude from all over," Andrea said. "A special bond is formed with the doctors, nurses, other families and we all become an extended family."

"Noah was a fighter and he was strong," she said. "St. Jude went above and beyond trying to save him. St. Jude is non-profit. No patient ever sees a bill. It takes $1.9 million a day to operate St. Jude and 75 percent of that comes from fundraisers such as this one. Without St. Jude, there may never be a cure for cancer. Cancer changes lives forever. Thank you all from my family and Noah. May God bless all of you."

Emcees were Rick Christian and Mark Taylor of Jonesboro with auctioneer Keven Wendt of Ohio keeping the bidding going with help from local volunteers.

In addition to over 100 items in the live auction, there was a variety of silent auction items, including a wall covered with gift certificates.

Door prizes included a John Deere lawn tractor, 42" flat screen television, custom butchered pig (freezer ready), which were donated back to be auctioned.

Noah's parents donated a yard ornament from Duck Dynasty autographed by Si Robertson to be auctioned.

"Noah wanted to go to Louisiana and pray with the family from Duck Dynasty," Andrea said. "We drove there on Duck Commander Sunday. He got to meet them and pray with them."

An anonymous group of bidders purchased the ornament for $10,500 and then had it given back to the family.

Canaan Sandy, who is named in the ESPN Top 3 Sports Fans for his calling of the Hogs, had an autographed hog hat to be auctioned. Canaan was all smiles when he finished calling the Hogs and the hat went for $4,000, along with an autograph from Canaan to Justin and Blaine Wildy, new owners of the hog hat.

St. Jude is a place of hope and life for children with childhood cancer. St. Jude shares the results of its research in the fight against cancer. It was established in 1962 by actor Danny Thomas.

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