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Fathers’ Club SNL Auction brings in big laughs while topping $1 million to benefit SI’s Scholarship Endowment Fund

 

More than a few people told Dave Hollister in private that he was a little crazy for taking on the enormous job of chairing the Fathers’ Club Scholarship Auction.

They were partly right. It turns out he was both wild and crazy as he did his best imitation of Steve Martin during the auction, which recreated both the set and the characters of Saturday Night Live.

Though Hollister did admit the experience was “like riding a rocket sled,” he also said the job was “more satisfying than I ever imagined it could be. I loved rallying people to work for a great cause while also having a great time.”

The host of volunteers and auction-goers helped raise more than $1 million to help SI’s Scholarship Endowment Fund and make possible an SI education for scores of young people who would otherwise not be able to enroll at the school.

They also illustrated Hollister’s core belief. At the gift-giving parties, he told donors that the auction “is all about fun, fellowship and fundraising. If you create the first two, the third will happen.”

Hollister came up with the SNL theme as the show has been a favorite in his household for years. (He and his wife, Rachel, are parents of Claire ’16, Nick ’17, George ’20 and John, a fifth grader at Town School for Boys.) He also relied on his family for advice regarding faculty participation, and that led to assistant principal for formation Chad Evans being tapped to play the Church Lady. “Chad was a one-take-wonder,” said Hollister. “He did a promotional video for us and walked on stage in character to say grace.”

Gary Brickley ’71 came on board for his 17th year as production designer. Knowing that the SNL set in New York was one-of-a-kind, he realized it would have to be custom fabricated at his shop. After studying online images, Brickley called the SNL designer at his Brooklyn scene shop. “Unfortunately, no drawings or dimensions of the set were available,” said Brickley, who then used standard dimensions for stair and door height to recreate the set. “The set was simply pixel-perfect,” said Hollister, who also praised Ted Curry ’82, director of SI’s fall plays and spring musicals. “I couldn’t have done it without him. He orchestrated all the moving parts of the show and made it flow so well.”

Hollister also thanked auction vice chair Matt Niehaus, underwriting chair Gordy Brooks, wine chair Gene Domecus and graphic artist Regan Mahoney. “These men are perfect examples of what it means to be part of the Fathers’ Club. They are guys who just step up when needed.”

Other dads who helped make the auction a success included Will Hunsinger, Nathaniel Chichioco and Eric Ludwig. “Will was here for four days straight helping organize volunteers for setup,” said Hollister. “It was so great to have Will, a new freshman dad, work with auction setup veterans such as Dan Casey, Paul Eggert and Jay Hanley. And Nathaniel and Gary did a superb job on the online auction.”

He also thanked Fathers’ Club President Dave Churton ’77. “As a former auction chair, he knew the process in and out and was a true partner. “I could pick up the phone, ask him for something, and he would take care of it. For example, I needed additional wine on short notice, and he made it happen with a donation from Tom Klein of Rodney Strong. This was in addition to a generous wine donation from Clay Fritz ’90 of Fritz Winery.”

Churton, in turn, praised Hollister, calling him “an excellent auction chairman who is committed to SI’s scholarship program. He built an incredible team and produced an evening that was one of the most successful auctions ever.”

Though this was a Fathers’ Club event, Ignatian Guild members pitched in, including Guild President Staci Fleming, Rachel Hollister and Meena Sidhu, who organized the fabrication of the TV-themed centerpieces.

Much of the success of the night happened thanks to auctioneer Franco Finn, whose day job is to hype up crowds before the Golden State Warriors take the court. He helped generate excitement for packages that included a Formula One Grand Prix trip to Austin, a dinner with Mayor Mark Farrell ’92 at City Hall and two dinners with SI Principal Patrick Ruff that brought in $80,000.

As for next year, Hollister has this advice for Niehaus, who will chair the 2019 auction. “Do what I did: Surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic and who believe in the mission of the school. When I first took on the job, I thought, ’How on earth will I be able to do this?’ It turned out that I shouldn’t have been asking that question. It wasn’t me doing everything. So many people graciously offered their help. I could not have done the auction without them. That’s the magic of the Fathers’ Club.” 

Posted by Mr. Paul J. Totah on Monday April 2
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