The quality of the three dozen raffle prizes that covered a banquet-size table was proof of how much work Team Mad Hatters puts into raising money to battle cancer.
Nicole Lopez Photography, for example, donated a family portrait photo session with accompanying prints, a prize that was valued at $150. The CBS Scene inside Patriots Place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., gave the Team Mad Hatters a gift certificate worth $50. A liquor basket prize was so heavy it took two people to lift it. Rhode Island businesses like the Cuban Revolution, Ladder 133, 39 West, Don Jose Tequila of Federal Hill, Bar 101 and Scentsy Wickless Candles and Lights were all among the major donors for the Team Mad Hatters’ annual raffle.
None of the prizes were valued at less than $25. And that was, Adam Hendricks said, a testament to Captain Kelly Mitchell and her Team Mad Hatters colleagues.
“The most important thing people should know about our fundraisers [is] that money raised by our team stays in Rhode Island to help fight the battle against cancer,” said Mitchell, who is a social work coordinator in the Comprehensive Cancer Unit at Rhode Island Hospital. “This was a great time, great people, great turnout.”
With folk guitarist Steve Herchen providing a musical backdrop at owner Pete Matteo’s Bar 101 on Atwood Avenue, the Team Mad Hatters final fundraiser netted upwards of $1,000 that will be lumped with profits from other teams and given to the 2012 Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life.
“I’m so proud of Kelly and her team,” Mitchell’s father Dan said. “A lot of work goes into putting on an event like this. And in an economy like this, that compounds the [fundraising] process as far as collecting raffle items, etc. Tonight was special.”
It was special thanks in part to Matteo, who created an Italian menu for the donation of just $5 at the door. There was also a 50/50 raffle and silent auction that further boosted the Team Mad Hatters coffers.
“Pete Matteo has been great for each of our fundraisers,” said Kelly Mitchell. “We can’t thank him enough ... this just may have been our best fundraiser ever.”
There’s one thing for certain: Saturday evening’s third annual fundraiser was by far the most entertaining when it came to a special celebration and dessert.
Derek Deragon, Kelly Mitchell’s fianc, planned a birthday surprise as part of Saturday night’s fundraiser that wound up taking a terrible tumble.
“I was in front at the bar,” Kelly Mitchell explained. “They were trying to distract me and get the cake ready. All of a sudden I heard laughter … when I went to look what the people were laughing about, there was my birthday cake on the floor.”
Deragon, who is a correctional officer, dropped the cake before presenting it to his fianc.
“But no one was angry,” Mitchell said. “We all just laughed and laughed.”
To date, the Team Mad Hatters have raised $2,865 as their donation to the 2012 Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society event that has the theme Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back.
This year’s Johnston/North Providence Relay for Life is scheduled for Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 at Johnston War Memorial Park. Thirteen teams have brought in upwards of $16,000. This year’s local goal is $35,000 and officials expect to surpass that total after the 18-hour marathon walk is completed on June 2.
Mitchell, meanwhile, isn’t stopping her efforts. She’s currently one of the top individual fundraisers at $1,090 and her Team Mad Hatters is second.
“We want to be on top by June 2,” said Mitchell. “This is an important part of all our lives.”
To make a donation to the Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/johnstonri. There is a list of local teams on the Johnston/North Providence homepage.