by Dennis Dalman
The recent fundraising benefit for Kelly Orndorff of Sartell was such a success, the Sartell Lions are thinking of doing another event next year for another deserving person.
The four-hour afternoon benefit, held at the Blue Line Sports Bar & Grill in Sartell, raised funds for the future needs of Orndorff, who lost her sight during an operation for a massive brain tumor not long after graduating from college in Duluth.
Orndorff is the daughter of Jane and Paul Orndorff of Sartell.
Another goal of the benefit, as suggested by Orndorff, was to educate and raise awareness of the visually handicapped in Sartell and elsewhere. That is why the event was dubbed “Never Lose Sight.”
Yet another goal was to raise awareness of the presence of the Sartell Lions in Sartell and the many good deeds it does, especially on behalf of the sight-impaired and the totally blind.
More than 400 people attended the event, which included lots of fun fundraising, including a “blind” putting green where blindfolded golfers attempted to putt into a “beeping” cup. There were several raffles, including a craft-beer and wine wheelbarrow raffle and a meat raffle. Lots of educational literature on the subject of the sight-impaired was available, along with speakers giving insights on the challenges faced by the sight-impaired. A silent auction was very successful. The event was emceed by radio personality Bob Hughes of KNSI-Radio.
“It was in incredible afternoon,” Kelly Orndorff said. “Truly amazing. The Sartell Lions went above and beyond. It was humbling to be surrounded by so many friends and family – and strangers.”
Orndorff’s father said he and other family members were humbled.
“We were honored, humbled by the turnout,” he said. “The Lions enabled Sartell to come out and support Kelly.”
Sartell Lions President Stu Giffin said all of it was possible because of the initial idea suggested by Tania Nevares, Lions Club secretary and events chair.
“When a well-organized event is matched to great causes, it enables powerful results,” Giffin said. “This event was one of the larger events the Sartell Lions have led in their 50-plus-year history. Although the Sartell Lions are a small, hardworking club, we were seriously impacted by many Sartell area business and numerous generous donors. The generosity shown in sponsorships, donations, in-kind gifts and time was beyond our expectations. As a result, we will consider hosting a similar event in 2018.”
After the event, the Sartell Lions invited Orndorff and her parents to their regular monthly meeting where she was presented with a check for an undisclosed amount.
“We are retaining confidentiality in the final tally raised,” Giffin told the Newsleader later, “but suffice to say the money raised exceeded our expectations and will assist Kelly in her future needs.”
At the meeting, Orndorff thanked everyone.
“I still wake up wondering why I’m not at the Blue Line (Sports Bar & Grill,)” said Orndorff, meaning the day of the event was a day she wished would never end.
Giffin hopes the success of “Don’t Lose Sight” will inspire others to join the Lions Club, noting the club’s motto is a simple but effective one: “We Serve.”
Anyone interested in joining should visit the Sartell Lions’ webpage at: www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/sartell.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.