OAKHURST – Candidates for the town’s Honorary Mayor position gathered Wednesday, July 10, as officials announced the winner of the season’s charity fundraising campaign.
Yosemite Bank in Oakhurst hosted the final event along with Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise Rotary and the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club.Brian Gearhart took first place in fundraising as candidate for the Eastern Madera County SPCA. Gearhart was presented with a certificate bestowing the honor upon him by last year’s winner John Burton, who also respresented the EMC SPCA, and has served as Honorary Mayor twice.
This is the third time in the past four years that the EMC SPCA candidate has claimed the title.
The Honorary Mayor campaign is sponsored each year by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, with candidates given a 9-week window to raise the most money for their charities, and each dollar counting as a vote.
This year’s candidates raised a record-breaking total of $161,655, about $94,500 more than last year.
Participating organizations and their candidates were the Boys and Girls Club of Oakhurst (Kurtis Foster), the Children’s Museum of the Sierra (Steve Montalto), Mountain Area Ski School (Theresa Wilson) and the Oakhurst Community Center (Dale Miller).
Food for the evening was provided by the Noon and Sunrise Rotary, with a no-host bar. Organizers raffled off a host of items including an iPad, television, GPS system, $100 gift card, Blackberry Z10, an LG Escape, 7 nights of dining at local restaurants, and a 2-night stay at Stevenswood Resort.
The Mayor’s race is truly a community event, and this year’s race was full of innovative and fun events put on by the five hard-working would-be Mayors, each a leader in his or her own way.
Veteran and single dad Kurtis Foster and his team sold tickets for the Great Kitchen Shutdown raffle, and hosted a series of great events including “Blues, Brews and BBQ” at Sierra Sky Ranch, all to bring the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club some much needed financial support.
Children’s Museum Director Steve Montalto held a dinner at Crabcakes Restaurant as a fundraiser, along with a visit to the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, a carnival and other events.
The teams for Montalto and Foster got together to hold a family movie night at the Met Cinemas, with a benefit showing of Wreck It Ralph. All the profits from the evening were donated to the campaigns by the Movie Heroes at the Met.
Theresa Wilson and her group, the Yosemite Sierra Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors, organized a special showing of the melodrama Dark Deeds at Swan’s Place at the Golden Chain Theater and had a great night out fundraising at the Queen’s Inn, with Mountain Area Ski School as the beneficiary.
Community Center rep Dale Miller put together some memorable events including a golf tournament and a night out at the Golden Chain Theater with dinner included.
Fundraising events for the EMC SPCA included bake sales at True Value Hardware in Oakhurst, and an Evening of Whine and Noses, hosted by Gearhart at Western Sierra Nursery.
The EMC SPCA is getting closer to its dream of opening a new shelter, the first of its kind in the area, on Highway 49 in Ahwahnee. Plans are available for viewing here.
The position of Honorary Mayor of Oakhurst comes with some ribbon-cutting duties and lots of bragging rights, plus the satisfaction of having raised significant sums of money for the candidate’s charity.