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Chamber fundraiser prompts questions

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Roswell Chamber of Commerce staff have been answering some questions about the golf ball drop fundraiser held during the May 5 Rise over Roswell balloon rally. When no one won the $20,000 prize money, some people wondered what had happened. (Staff Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

A recent fundraiser at a community event has required the organizers to spend some time explaining more about it.

The Roswell Chamber of Commerce coordinated a golf ball drop during the Rise over Roswell balloon rally, which was held in conjunction with the Cinco de Mayo festival. The events were co-sponsored by the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and held at the Russ Dekay Soccer Complex on North Grand Avenue during the May 5 weekend.

The ball drop raffle was promoted not only as a way to send a youth to balloon camp but as a chance for someone to win $20,000. When it was announced that no one had won the prize money, some people were calling and posting to Facebook wondering why.

“I still don’t understand that this worked. What are the rules?” asked one Facebook poster. “What happened to the 20K since no one won?” asked another.

Some posters also indicated that they appreciated that some of the proceeds will be used to benefit youth.

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But the critical responses have led a chamber staff member to think that a less complicated form of the raffle will be used next year.

“I am looking at different options as far as the ball drop because the feedback I am getting back is that maybe they didn’t understand it,” said Todd Verciglio, the marketing and social media director for the chamber. “I think I want to do something next year that has more of a guarantee.”

According to rules posted on Facebook and printed on flyers, the purchase of a $15 to $10 raffle ticket gave the buyer an opportunity to win $20,000. During the golf ball drop on the morning of the balloon rally, a 1,000 golf balls marked with numbers were dropped from a balloon. The 10 balls that landed closest to the bullseye of a target drawn on the field were picked up.

On the morning of May 9, the chamber announced the numbers on the 10 balls near the bullseye. Had the number on one of those balls matched the number that had been placed in a sealed envelope prior to the ball drop, the ticket holder with the matching number would have been the winner of the $20,000.

But, alas, as event organizers announced on the afternoon of May 9, none of the 10 balls nearest the bullseye had the same number as that in the sealed envelope. The winning number, 5244, did match a ticket that had been purchased, but that number was not on a ball near the bullseye.

But where did the $20,000 prize go?

“I know that we have had several other people ask us if the chamber is holding on to the $20,000,” said Verciglio. “The way that it works is, it is an insurance policy that you can buy. They are pretty typical and standard across-the-board. And then if all the criteria of the contest is met and there is a winner, the insurance company pays out the $20,000 for the prize money. It is not like the chamber had that money sitting in reserve.”

The chamber’s executive director, Candace Frost Lewis, said that the policy was purchased through Odds On Promotions and cost a bit more than $600.

According to Verciglio and Lewis, the sale of the raffle tickets raised a little more than $5,200. Some of the proceeds from the raffle will be used to send one to two kids from the area to the Rio Grande Balloon Camp in Albuquerque during summer 2019, at a cost of about $500 to $1,000. The rest will be used to cover any outstanding bills resulting from this year’s Cinco de Mayo and balloon events and to pay toward next year’s events, which, as Verciglio pointed out, are free events for the public.

Verciglio said that local youth will have the chance to submit essays or applications if they are interested in being considered for the balloon camp and that the balloon rally committee will chose who will go. Because this year’s summer camp is filled, the youth will attend the 2019 camp, he said.

Lewis said that she thinks the fundraiser went “really well,” although she recognized that as a first-time fundraiser and one organized fairly quickly, that some people didn’t have time to understand all aspects of it.

“I think, in time, when we do this again next year,” she said, “we will schedule it more in advance rather than rush it as we did this year.”