Wednesday, November 21, 2012

#319 Line 'Em Up

Last Friday night I attended the 12th Man Leukemia Jam, a benefit for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and to show support for Colt’s coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia several weeks ago. I have participated in two bicycling events with LLS’s Team In Training Program, so when I heard about this event I was interested. Make a donation and get to meet interim Colts coach Bruce Arians, quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver Reggie Wayne. And have food and drinks from Dunaway’s Palazzo Ossigeno. A win-win, right? Almost.

The event was from 6-10 p.m., with autographs scheduled from 7-9 p.m. I drove by the restaurant around 5:50 p.m. and people were already in line down the street. My friends and I got in line at 6:15 p.m. At that time I estimate there were over 100 people in line. Outside. In November. Luckily, the temperature was fairly moderate in the upper 40s. The line moved along ok until around 6:45 p.m., when we stood still for probably half an hour and were maybe 20 feet from the door. During this time a few people in front and behind us gave up and called cabs. We finally made it inside around 7:30.

After checking in, we immediately got in the autograph line. I did want food (the Donger needs food!) but our main concern at this point was autographs. My friends all brought items so I offered to help them get more things signed. Did I mention I had to go to the bathroom? Our line snaked through the bar area and back toward the stair landing, up the stairs, and all through the second floor. I felt like I was at King’s Island. The only thing missing was a sign telling me how long of a wait I had from a certain point. (One guy did tell us it would take about 45 minutes once we got into a bigger room upstairs).

We finally made it to the autograph table at 8:45 p.m. Whew! Along the way we read signs that autographs were not guaranteed so we never were overly confident. I stepped up to face Reggie and he looked at me with his head cocked to one side. I said, “You look puzzled.” He smiled and asked, “How tall are you?” I’d never seen him up close, but he is adorable! They were all very nice, and Julie and I both leaned in separately to get pictures with Andrew and Reggie. We waited a short time for our friends to get through the line and then headed to the food.

Ahh, the food. The food was great – a carving station, bruschetta & dip station, seafood station and slider station. Vegetables & dip, fruit, antipasto & cheese. We even heard there were crab claws but never saw them. We stuffed ourselves for the last hour of the event. We even made it to the roof for s’mores, hot cider and hot cocoa with amaretto. Yum!

This event did not turn out how any of us expected. I think it’s great that Dunaway’s held it at their restaurant. The owner’s brother died of leukemia in the 1950s. Back then, and even as recent as 20 years ago, there was much more limited treatment. I know how important fundraising has been to facilitate the creation of new treatments to save lives. However, as a person who works in the event-planning business, I have a few observations about this particular event (that I will also share with Dunaway’s).

• If you have 500 people RSVP for your event, I would suggest you have space for 500 people in your establishment. I realize they wanted to raise as much money as possible, but having people who paid a lot of money stand outside in line for over an hour is not a good practice. What if it was 30 degrees outside? What if it was raining? As I said earlier, I saw several people leave and I heard more than one person remark that they had paid via credit card and planned to stop charges. This could reflect badly on the LLS and Dunaway’s, but I am mostly worried about the LLS. My plan was that if I did not get in or get an autograph, I would cancel my charge and make a donation directly to the LLS.

• Once you have people inside, it would be nice to have the food and beverages along the line so you can eat as you go. The food was at the far ends of the rooms and with all of the items we had in our hands it was difficult to maneuver around all the people. And our main priority was autographs. Well, my friends’ main priority was autographs…I’m always about the food. :-)

Despite our frustrations during the night, we did have a good time. I’m one to hang in there (see Post No. 283) until things are really dire. We kept our sense of humor and it was definitely good people-watching. And I’ve learned that if you keep a relatively good attitude about things, more times than not, things end up working out ok.

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