by Duell Fisher
How can anyone explain why, in a downturned economy, this year's Hutch Holiday Gala raised $1.2 million more than was projected, amassing a total of $4.5 million that is easily the highest amount in the event's 27-year history?
"The moon and the stars were aligned," said Kristen Grey Sanders, gala coordinator in Development. "I think there was a magic in the room, a certain energy that kept building among the guests. The whole package seemed to work this year."
Hosted by the Grace Heffernan Arnold Guild, the Dec. 7 auction at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel & Towers drew more than 850 and broke the previous record of $4.23 million raised during the 2000 gala.
"We are amazed at the generosity and thrilled to have had guests from Canada to California," said Ric Anderson, gala trustees' chair.
The guests included Don Listwin of Redwood City, Calif.-based Openwave Systems, who donated $2 million via the Listwin Family Foundation. In a surprise move, Listwin doubled his original challenge gift of $1 million for research into the early detection of ovarian cancer.
Another touching gesture came when Dan Lynch of San Francisco spoke during the evening, then bought a painting by Seattle artist Liang Wei depicting "A Day in the Life of the Hutch" for $20,000. The next morning, he gave the painting to Fred Hutchinson patient Joyce Miner, who also spoke.
Major auction items included a 2003 GM Hummer H2 that raised $57,000; a raffle by Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, more than $20,000; four tickets to a final-season taping of TV's "Friends," $15,000; Costco Power Trip with VIP Executives, $25,000; autographed Seattle Mariners jerseys, $14,000; a walk-on role on TV's "Scrubs," $7,000; a private jet to the Napa Valley with private wine tours, $22,500; and exotic travel packages topping $150,000.