Gala was a Sold-Out Success
Mar. 22, 2019 – Serenely nestled in a pasture of green grass, surrounded by budding trees, the inaugural Murphy Veterans Tribute Gala was held on Mar. 22, at Cross Creek Ranch on Dublin Rd. Attendees were greeted at the venue door by Donna Jenkins, President of the Murphy Historical Society, and then invited to peruse the silent auction items, enjoy a drink at the complimentary bar and mingle. Mary Pat Elledge, Committee Chairperson of Murphy Veterans Tribute (MVT), welcomed guests and stated, “We are so excited to have you here to learn about the Tribute, but mostly to have a really good time.” Veterans in attendance were asked to stand to be recognized. Elledge said that the funds raised at this event were earmarked specifically to have the land, which was donated by the City of Murphy, surveyed and to get an engineering report. Once these processes are complete, bids will be received to build the Murphy Veterans Tribute.
Natalie Woods, TV personality of “Hot On! Homes” emceed the event. Barrett Phillips (Wylie High alumnus) performed a crowd pleasing variety of country, rock, classic and contemporary music while attendees dined.
Retired U.S. Navy SEAL, Scott Phillips (Wylie resident) was the guest speaker. He said, “The best part about the military was the guy next to me, which is what any military person would say. I miss the camaraderie.” He said that he was never a sentimental guy, but now he is a member of a motorcycle group who ride to veterans’ memorials and finds that description of himself to be inaccurate. He encouraged attendees to donate to the MVT, “Let’s invest in something that is bigger than ourselves. Invest in something that will outlive us and that will bring closure and peace to those who wrote a blank check when they chose to serve in the military.”
Looking at the architectural rendering of the MVT, you will see six “arms” reaching skyward. The six arms represent the six U.S. military branches. Just as those arms reach upward, so did the arms of attendees during the silent auction. Eleven auction items were listed on the program, however, as the night went on and the generosity poured forth, some items were auctioned twice and some items were spontaneously added to the auction block. The top dollar bid went for a private dinner for 10 guests to Fogo De Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, donated by Fogo De Chao. The item was valued at $1,500 and sold for $2,300. A Glock 43, 9mm pistol, donated by Natalie Wood/Texas Gun Experience sold for $1,350. A patriotic vase, which was a simple stage prop, was a very last minute addition to the auction. Attendees sweetened the “pot” by stuffing it with cash and gift cards. It sold for $650.
Murphy resident Sue Diamond is the Gala Chairperson of Programs and Auction Items. She provided background information as to how the Gala came to be, “Wanting to move on to the next phase of this project, the group tossed around the best ideas to generate funds, increase our visibility and credibility as well as engage the residents and businesses of the community for such a worthy cause. A gala seemed to be the best way to do this.” Regarding ticket sales, Lou Diamond, Murphy resident and MVT Design Chair said, “We have in the vicinity of 130 attendees that will be at the gala. We had hoped for around 100, but the support surpassed our expectations!”
Regarding how much money was raised from this event, Lou said, “We will have to wait until a final accounting is made before we realize what this event generated, but we have to remember that being a new organization, and this being our first fundraiser, the recognition as an honorable and worthwhile entity in the Murphy area is just as important as the funds being raised. It is so important for our name to be out among the business community and citizenry of this area so as to have the ability to solicit donations for the project.”
MVT welcomes anyone who would like to help them reach their goal to contact them at murphyveteranstribute.com. “Everyone is welcome and the skills that they possess can be put to good use for the benefit of the Tribute.” They are particularly looking for those who can help with grant writing, ‘in kind’ landscaping and clearing the land as well as helping to get the word out about the project to the community, other areas and larger companies.
MVT’s purpose statement is, “To provide a welcoming environment for visitors to give honor, respect and gratitude to all veterans; and the opportunity to educate future generations as to the price paid for the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy today.” Lou said, “To appreciate what we are doing, we ask our neighbors, community and surrounding areas to help us complete this labor of love. We are attempting to give back a little something to those who have given so much. To turn our back on them is not even a consideration.”
Reflecting on the evening, Elledge said, “Our Murphy Veterans Tribute Gala was an amazing event! Our team of volunteers are so thankful for the generosity of this outstanding group of guests who opened their hearts and pocketbooks for our cause. I have never seen anything like this, ever! Thank you all!”