It was a bidding frenzy at McGuire Memorial’s Special Auction for Special People held February 27 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.  The annual event, in its 24th year, brought out more than 400 supporters of McGuire Memorial to join KDKA’s Larry Richert, for an evening to support the programs of McGuire Memorial with a special focus this year on The School at McGuire.  The organization kicked off a scholarship fund goal of $450,000 to ensure that students with physical and intellectual disabilities can continue to receive comprehensive education and services despite lack of state funding approval. Since student placement is funded by a combination of school district and state funding, many children ages 3-21 years old have not been cleared to attend the school or benefit from the comprehensive education, range of therapeutic services, and individualized curriculum that the school provides within a nurturing and loving environment. The scholarship fund will help to ensure that no interruption to education will occur.

Continuing their 2015 theme of “Technology”, which last year raised funds to enable their Community Homes to become “Smart Homes”, the 2016 McGuire Event Committee expanded their “digital footprint” to donors.  Guests of this year’s event enjoyed online auction previews and mobile bidding technology to ignite bidding wars on the more than 160 Live & Silent Auction items.  Using just their bidding number, attendees could also purchase tickets for an incredible Fire & Ice drawing featuring potent potables with home entertainment merchandise and the McGuire’s Basket Bazaar.  New in 2016, attendees could also buy a Golden Ticket which allowed them to steal a Bazaar Basket of their choice before winners were drawn. Best of all, this new technology allows friends and family members of guests to continue to add to the scholarship fund goal of $450,000 by making a donation or becoming a fundraiser at over the next few months.

Great food and great entertainment have been long-standing traditions of this event, as is the highly anticipated annual car raffle. One fortunate supporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, became the lucky winner and new owner of a 2014 Camaro ZL1 Convertible, one of only 541 built, when his winning ticket was pulled in front of the live audience at the Westin.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of The Blessed Mary Angela Award, a tradition that stems from a deeply rooted desire of Sister Mary Thaddeus Markelewicz to annually honor individuals who most reverently espouse the high ideals and religious commitment of the award’s namesake, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowsk.  KDKA’s Larry Richert and his wife, Cindy and McGuire Memorial Board Chairman, Fred O’Brien and wife, Ellen, were recognized as honorees for their intentional ministry embracing not only McGuire Memorial, but the ideals of love, piety, and a conviction to serve, inspire and challenge others into action.

Before the evening concluded, President and CEO of McGuire Memorial Foundation, Dennis Sabatini made a remarkable announcement. “A few years ago,” he announced, “McGuire’s dear friend, Larry Richert introduced a wonderful married couple to McGuire. Over time, this kind and compassionate couple has become more and more involved with supporting McGuire’s “Entrusted Treasures. While they do not want to be identified tonight, they have made a $4,000,000 donation to support the mission of McGuire Memorial. This is the single largest donation ever received.” This gift will be used to match dollar for dollar all gifts made to McGuire Memorial by corporate and individual friends and will bring fullness of life to the children and adults served by McGuire Memorial.