The evening of January 10, 2024, will long be remembered in the history of the Weatherby Foundation as one of the most successful and exciting Galas ever! The night’s events started with a social period allowing us to connect with our friends who share our cause, and our name recall was aided by the return of Weatherby name tags. Stilt walkers, gentle and appropriate music, a professional photo booth opportunity, and a varied and exciting silent auction all made for a pleasant lead-in to the main event. Nick Hoffman (think Nick’s Wild Ride on the Outdoor Channel) gave a fantastic and stirring rendition of the National Anthem followed by a program led and narrated by Mike Rogers, Jr., and J. Alain Smith. At the beginning of a delicious dinner we were treated by a thoughtful and inspiring message presented by the incomparable artist, hunter, and conservationist John Banovich, urging us all to pursue with all our heart the issues and initiatives we hold dear in the wildlife realm. Thanks, John! It was almost like being there with you swimming with the elephants!
Our fundraising auction proved to be a real success with many of the winning bids exceeding the advertised value of the item! We needed a big number to help push our cause forward and make our mission statement more than just words. We send out a huge Thank You to our auction chair Keegan McCarthy, our auction donors, auctioneer John Bair, Cass Olmstead, Kameron Bybee, Lori Clem-Byrnes, Barbara Sackman, our auction spotters, and everyone else with a role in this. There are many moving parts to this whole endeavor and we give a very sincere and hearty thanks to all involved!
Following the auction came what we had all been waiting for: the presentation of the 2023 Weatherby Hunting and Conservation Award to Béla Hidvégi of Hungary. Béla is a truly worthy recipient of this award with his amazing and impressive record of hunting achievements, conservation efforts, authorship, and humanitarian efforts. As Béla gave his insightful acceptance speech the entire hall was quiet, receptive, and appreciative of this man’s accomplishments. Well done, Béla!
At the conclusion of the award ceremony, the atmosphere morphed into a delightful after-party which was born from energetic planning, Béla’s generosity, and the desire to take this Gala to a higher level. Conducted in the same ballroom as the gala, the party featured a lovely band and dance floor, axe throwing (OK, rubber suction cup style), corn hole, great drinks, and an inviting atmosphere to visit with friends old and new and mingle with our worthy award winner. The party was an outstanding hit that held and entertained patrons past midnight! Thank you again to everyone who worked to make this Gala a reality and we look forward to having you with us next year for another super event!
Peter A. Larsen, M.D.