Brian Hamilton: Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising |

Brian Hamilton: Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising

Through all these years of working for newspapers, I’ve seen a slew of sports-based fundraising events, from the routine regulars of bowling, golf and softball tournaments to the not-so routine events like donkey basketball and cow patty bingo — which, in April, added little extra fertilizer to Ted White Field while raising some money for Nevada Union’s baseball program for the sixth annual event.

The idea behind these “sports of sorts” events is to have some fun while raising funds for a good cause rather than solely focusing on the competition. In short, regardless of who emerges with a victory, such events are a real win-win for the community.

And it was great to see two of those traditions continue this week.

The Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Triathlon returned to the Cascade Shores community at Scotts Flat Lake Sunday for the 23rd time. The triathlon, whose namesake died of cancer at the age of 42, was a favorite annual event to cover as a sportswriter for both the actual athletic competition and the compelling stories that came with the competitors.

… another example of why we’re all so fortunate to call this place home.

Want a good story? Just follow any finisher at race’s end and ask her why she’s participating. More often than not, you’ll hear about her mother, her sister, her aunt, her niece — or the athlete herself — who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their loved one’s battle with cancer inspired them to push themselves in their honor.

The triathlon benefits Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Breast Imaging Center, the Barbara Schmidt Millar Fund of Nevada County and the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Scholarship.

But it also benefits women by offering an opportunity to test their mettle, and for some, to try something for the first time. The high fives and celebration at the finish line capture the camaraderie that has made this event such a community favorite.

The triathlon’s founder, Cathy Anderson-Meyers, said that’s how the event got its start, when 13 friends of Barbara Schmidt Millar set out to complete a triathlon the day after her memorial service.

The spirit behind this sporting event is still evident now nearing a quarter century of competition.

Also putting the “fun” in “fundraising” this week was the 15th annual Friendship 100, an event that challenges community members in go-kart racing, miniature golf and fundraising all to the benefit of The Friendship Club, a vitally important and hugely successful program here in western Nevada County.

The Friendship Club has played a pivotal role in the lives of hundreds of girls. The Nevada City-based nonprofit combines an after-school program with summer sessions, fields trips, tutoring and mentorship to serve at-risk girls. The club serves 75-100 girls in grades six through 12 each year.

The program is designed to steer those girls away from unhealthy behavior and empower them to develop life skills, build self-confidence and define and reach goals.

Serving as proof of its success, several of the program’s graduates today serve as mentors or have returned to The Friendship Club to give back as staff members or volunteers, somewhat bringing the mission full circle.

On Monday night, more than 300 community members and an untold number of donors showed their support for the program at the Friendship 100 by turning laps, sinking putts or signing a check for a great cause.

Executive Director Jennifer Singer said Tuesday morning the event likely raised $90,000 this year. Among the top fundraisers, Singer said, was the Grass Valley Police Department, which raised more than $5,000, while Sara Perry ($3,300) Carolyn Crist Wright ($3,025), Michelle Litton Ogaidi ($2,875), Machen MacDonald ($2,475) and Bob Brown ($2,325) comprised the top five individual fundraisers.

Both events have surpassed more than a half million dollars raised for their respective causes and supported members of this community in many more ways than one.

It’s just another testament to the ongoing generosity of this community, whether through volunteer hours or actual dollars donated.

And another example of why we’re all so fortunate to call this place home.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at or 530-477-4249.

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