Live auction highlights $3,600 raised for American Diabetes Association

Shock have big-time bidders

The Detroit Shock’s Tip-A-Shock fundraiser benefiting the American Diabetes Association was a fun event for the team and its fans at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Lake Orion Thursday night. (See photo gallery.) No surprise there - the event has been a favorite of both players and fans since 2002.

And then came the live auction. That was a surprise.

The highest bidder would get to have their photo taken with the entire Shock team, right there on the deck at Buffalo Wild Wings. The bidding started at $25. It did not stay there, as a unique group of bidders found personal reasons to keep raising their hands.

John Vanston of Lake Orion bid. He was at Buffalo Wild Wings with his two daughters, Gabriella, 9, and Gianna, 6. They come to Buffalo Wild Wings every Wednesday, which is Kids’ Day, and had no idea about Tip-A-Shock. (Gabriella, though, said she got a lot of autographs from the players and can’t wait to go to her first game.)

“Everybody was just so friendly here and it was a great cause,” said Vanston, a group manager for Utica Enterprises, which provides services to auto manufacturers.

Sharon Thanopoulos also bid. The onetime Shock season-ticket holder from Troy still follows what the team does on the court and off, giving back to the causes they support. With plenty of Shock memorabilia saved over the years, she didn't necessarily need the photo, but “just wanted the money to go the right place.”

Then two 20somethings got in on the action, even when the bidding got pretty steep. But the Delatorre brothers - Reuben, 25, and Alex, 23 - from Naperville, Ill., wouldn’t back down.

The Delatorres, whose business with the dietary supplement company Global Tower is booming and the reason they were in Lake Orion Thursday, were eager to help out. “Michigan has been good to me in these last years as far as distributing,” Reuben said. “It was exciting to do something, give something back.”

The players started to whoop and holler with every bid. (See video of the auction here.)

It was around the $350 mark that Taj McWilliams started to realize something special was going on. “I was like, ‘What, just for a photo? If they’d give $500, I’d go eat with them, too!’ Around $350 I was amazed.”

Sure enough, $500 was the winning bid, which Vanston and Thanopoulos split between them. As runners-up with a bid of $490, the Delatorres also got a photo with the team. They paid another $10 to match the winning bid. In a 10-minute frenzy, a photo op with the Shock raised $1,000 for the American Diabetes Association.

“It’s rare when you see that kind of bidding,” said Kelli Dobner, associate director of special events for the ADA in Michigan and Northwest Ohio. “It’s really rare but it’s magic.”

That magic came at a cost, Dobner discovered. Many of the bidders were donating because of the pain diabetes has caused members of their family. A fourth bidder, Palace employee Sue Deplonty, who kept her hand raised well into the $400 bids, is diabetic.

Gianna and Gabriella Vanston (lower right) look forward to seeing their first Shock game after meeting the players at Tip-A-Shock Thursday.
Ryan Pretzer (Shock Photo)
Reuben And Alex’s youngest brother, Jon Carlo, was diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago when he was nine. The youngest of six brothers, Jon Carlo battles a severe case of diabetes and takes frequent insulin shots. “He’s gone into (diabetic) shock a couple of times,” said Reuben.

Thanopoulos said her father also struggles with the disease. She wanted to give back after all the charitable work she’s seen the Shock players do in the community. To see the players’ excitement at the bidding was part of the fun.

“The girls - Cheryl Ford, Katie Smith - they’re involved with a lot of fundraisers in Michigan. It warms my heart. It was great,” she said. “They were, like, '(Gasp), Keep it going, keep it going!’ It was a great feeling.”

The prevalence of diabates became clear when Taj McWilliams walked up to the ADA information table and grabbed a pamphlet before she left. “My mom has it,” she said.

“It’s sad but we really are at epidemic proportions right now,” Dobner said. “Events like this, community partners like the Shock, only help to get that message out there and get that significant funding that’s needed. I love this kind of event, it’s great.”

The entire Tip-A-Shock event raised more than $3,600 in two and a half hours. The fans enjoyed great food and tableside visits from the players and coaches, paying $1 tips for autographs and raffle tickets to win prizes like autographed jerseys, VIP tickets and a private lunch with head coach Rick Mahorn.

The Shock will present a check to the American Diabetes Association on Aug. 23, which is "ADA Night." Ten dollars from every ticket purchased to that night's game against the Western Conference champion San Antonio Silver Stars will be donated to the ADA. Anyone interested in supporting ADA Night at The Palace should contact Rachel Myers at 248.377.0126 or RMyers@palacenet.com.