by Ray Campbell

Everyone, get your checkbooks, credit cards, and bidder numbers ready. Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 7 p.m. during the American Council of the Blind's 47th annual convention, we'll all be off to find some great bargains and help ACB at the same time.

Just as a racehorse tries to better its time with every run, so will the auction committee seek to better what it did with last year's auction. Last year, we raised almost $19,000 for ACB and the auction committee again thanks you for that effort. Let's make a run for $20,000 this year!

To do this, we really need everyone's help. You came through last year to get ACB to the finish line and we know you can do it again. Donations can come from state or special-interest affiliates, agencies that sell products to people who are blind, or local businesses in your areas. Does your state have a unique food product you can donate? Let us know about it. From Wisconsin cheese to California wine, to Alaskan reindeer sausage, almost anything goes. How about a vacation package to one of America's great cities like San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, New York or Chicago? Nashville did it for us last year; let's top that! If you want to get items donated and need a letter for tax purposes, please contact Brenda Dillon, (615) 874-1223, [email protected].

What do we already have? Well, how about a chance to spend a relaxing week at one of two time shares, the ACB time share in Mexico or a time share courtesy of Charlie Hodge on St. Martin? How about some delicious bourbon fudge from Kentucky, our host state this year? How about a BrailleNote mPower or one of four Victor Reader Streams from HumanWare? These are just a few of the things that will be up for bid.

Please note: there are a few changes this year. We are going to ask that anyone attending the auction who wants to bid on anything get a bidder number. This will help both with record-keeping as well as making sure we get those winning bids right. There will be opportunities to get bidder numbers in advance; you can also get them the night of the auction.

We will also have a cash bar to help keep those bidding voices lubricated at the auction. We're going to try an auction picnic, too; foods like hot dogs, potato chips, soda and the like will be available for purchase at the auction. So you can't use the excuse of needing to eat for staying away from the auction.

Again this year, if you want to donate something for the auction, you can bring it with you to convention. However, so we can prepare braille and large print lists of the items which will be up for bid, please notify us by June 15 of what you plan to bring. Get the name of the item, by whom it is being donated, its dollar value, and a contact name, phone number and e-mail address to Cindy Van Winkle, (360) 698-0827, [email protected] as soon as you are sure you'll be donating the item. If you need to ship auction items to the hotel, please ship between June 27 and June 30. Address as follows:

The Galt House Hotel
Attn: (insert your name) -- hold for arrival
140 N. 4th St.
Louisville, KY 40202

If you are not planning to attend but would like to contribute an item, you may put it Attn: Brenda Dillon.

Again this year, we will have several items up for pre-bid before convention. However, that process will work a little differently. What you will do is submit your bids along with a high bid, similar to how things work with eBay. For example, let's say the BrailleNote mPower is offered for pre-bid. You would submit your bid of, say, $3,000. With that, you would also tell us how high you want to go, say $5,000. The night of the auction, we will tell those in attendance what the highest pre-bid is and that is where the live bidding will start. If the item goes above your high bid, you'll be ruled out.

And last but not least, we have a surprise auctioneer who will join both Jeff Thom and Ray Campbell, who are back by popular demand.

So, get lined up in the starting gates with checkbooks, credit cards and bidder numbers in hand. We'll be off to the races with the ACB auction on Wednesday, July 9 at 7 p.m. Come on, let's make it a huge win for ACB in 2008!

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