May is a busy month in Williamsburg, as tourists arrive in town and people hope to enjoy getting out before the arrival of the summer heat. It’s also a busy time for nonprofit organizations such as the Avalon Center and Dream Catchers, which both held major fundraisers in May. With the dust settled, the organizations reflect on how the events turned out.
Dream Catchers, which provides therapeutic horseback riding to people with special needs, saw the return of its biggest fundraising effort of the year — Bridles and Boots, formerly Bridles and Bow Ties — on May 19.
Development director Terry Jacoby said the organization typically doesn’t release how much money they raise, but Bridles and Boots continued its trend as the organizations premiere fundraiser, once again selling out in its 11th year.
“It was our best ever and we’re so very thankful to our supporters and our donors,” Jacoby said.
The funds help ensure affordable lessons for clients; proceeds from the event’s live auction support the Dream Riders scholarship program. Jacoby said patrons were inspired by the $25,000 match challenge, which was exceeded, alongside contributions from the event’s sponsors: Spain Commercial Inc., TowneBank, David A. Nice Builders Inc. and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center.
“We’re very, very fortunate that our events are well-supported,” Jacoby said. “There’s nothing like seeing the joy on the families’ faces.”
The Avalon Center also sought funds for its mission of helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Wine Tour de France event returned to Le Yaca French Restaurant for its third year May 20.
“It was a good success,” said Priscilla Caldwell, Avalon’s development director, although she said results weren’t as strong as in the past.
The first two fundraisers fell in April. The 2017 iteration doubled the monetary haul compared to 2016. Alongside the move to a May date, the event saw a decline in attendance, although Caldwell didn’t disclose specific details. She pointed to the month’s crowded calendar as the likely culprit.
“I think there were so many things going on that it did lower our numbers,” she said, giving examples of graduations and the LPGA Kingsmill Championship.
Caldwell said she hopes a group such as the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance might create a calendar that lays out a schedule of fundraising events so different organizations can work together and avoid overlap.
“There are lots of fundraisers in the region, so it would be great for the benefit of the community as a whole and all the charities,” she said.
As Avalon serves more people than ever, the goal is spreading the wealth and the love around. Despite lower-than-expected results, Caldwell said Wine Tour de France will return in 2019, although it will likely move back to April.
“It was a great event,” she said. “People have enjoyed it tremendously.”
The Avalon Classic Golf Tournament returns for a second year at Ford’s Colony Nov. 2. Registration is $125 per golfer; to register or sponsor the event, visit avaloncenter.org/avalon-classic.
The next Dream Catchers fundraiser, Cowboys Uncorked, heads to the Williamsburg Winery 6-9 p.m. Nov. 11. Tickets go on sale in August. Visit dreamcatchers.org for more information.
Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.