Out and about around Olympia, it doesn’t take long to spot them. Maybe you see them sporting a purple and gold tie, or perhaps it’s the crimson and grey personalized license plate. They are out there and they are all over: Husky fans and Cougar fans. It’s a friendly and spirited rivalry that spreads across all parts of Washington State, and has for over 100 years. With a rivalry like this, so deep seeded into the community, it is the perfect theme for West Olympia Rotary’s new fundraiser: The West Side Story dueling piano fundraising event.
The West Olympia Rotary has been a fixture of the community for over 40 years. They are a civic club committed to their motto of “service above self.” By raising funds, they are able to contribute to their community, both locally and internationally in a variety of ways.
“Over the years,” shares Katya Miltimore, coordinator for the event, “the West Olympia Rotary has been involved in community projects like the skate park in West Olympia, the development of West Bay Park on Budd Bay, and we helped the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation become a non-profit entity and established the first endowed scholarship there.”
People may remember the West Olympia Rotary Club’s long running fundraiser on Capitol Lake during Lakefair: Golf Island. Ecological changes resulted in the discontinuation of the popular fundraiser, and the West Olympia Rotary has been looking for a fun and unique fundraiser ever since.
Inspiration came about when a Rotary member attended a dueling piano fundraiser outside of the region. “With a number of musicians in the club, we thought this kind of fundraiser would be a really great match,” says Katya. “And with the club being located on the westside of Olympia, the fundraiser name, The Westside Story, is also a perfect fit.”
A few months ago, the West Olympia Rotary began taking proposals from different non-profits in the area that could benefit from some of the financial support raised during this event. Many wonderful organizations submitted proposals, and the organization that received the most votes from the Rotarians was the Family Support Center of South Sound. The organization will be moving their operations to the westside and significantly expanding. The funds received from being the featured non-profit partner at the dueling pianos fundraising event will go towards these goals.
Each year, the club plans to showcase a different rivalry. This year the competition is between University of Washington Husky fans, and Washington State University Cougar fans. Several Rotary members represent each of the rivalry teams, so playful banter has already begun.
The event will begin with a rousing rendition of each team’s fight song to get everyone into the spirit. Event attendees will also find two specially built goalposts covered with cards of different fundraising amounts, ranging from $50-250. Each card will represent a need for the Family Support Center. During the social hour, guests can remove a card and put their name to it, committing to that level of donation. Whichever team removes all their cards first will be recognized as the winner of the goal post competition.
The Rotary is also looking for local businesses to match the raised funds of each goal post. If both goal posts are matched and all the donation cards are claimed, the rotary will raise $5,000 from that portion of the fundraiser alone. The Husky fans have really stepped up, as their goal post has already been fully matched. But there is still time for a proud Cougar business to come in and match the Cougar side too.
The winning team of the goalpost challenge will receive a very special treat from Bittersweet Chocolates that is being created specifically for this special event.
The dueling piano entertainment will be provided by a duo out of Utah: Killer Keyz, who specializes in this type of fun event. “We’re really looking forward to partnering with them,” says Katya. In addition to the goal post challenge and musical entertainment, there will be games like giant Jenga and Plinko during the social hour, and drinks available for purchase at the bar. Following social hour, guest will enjoy a buffet dinner.
“We have several amazing sponsors helping us make this event a success,” says Katya. Nicholson and Associates, MPH Holdings and West Bay Marina are helping out with fun games and prizes; the food will be prepared by SPSCC Catering; and song battles will be presented by Edward Jones financial adviser, Dan Young.
One of the VIP sponsors is Olympia Federal Savings. “We have a long history with the Rotary,” says Sandy DiBernardo, marketing director for OlyFed and longtime Rotarian. “At the core of OlyFed’s values is a philosophy of ‘people before profits.’ Taking care of our neighbors is the right thing to do, which is why OlyFed is so philanthropic and why we support such a diverse group of local nonprofits and service organizations like Rotary.”
Rocco Turpin State Farm Insurance is also a VIP sponsor of this event.
The West Side Story Dueling Pianos Fundraising Event will take place on Friday, February 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the South Puget Sound Community College Lacey campus. To purchase tickets, follow this link from the West Side Rotary website.