For 83 years, Ducks Unlimited's conservation accomplishments have been made possible through the generosity of many volunteers, donors, and supporters. That triad of goodwill is on display throughout the year at DU fundraising events nationwide. One of the largest, the Denver Sponsor Dinner, recently celebrated its sixth year of success.
A crowd of 325 filled the convention room at the Denver Ritz Carlton, and the excitement was palpable. DU CEO Adam Putnam kicked off the event with opening remarks and later jumped in as a ringer for an intense live auction that saw multiple items sell for well above $20,000. The auction was packed with prizes donated by several generous partners and supporters.
"I was honored to be a part of one of Ducks Unlimited's top-performing events in the country," Adam said. "One ticket, one table, one raffle at a time, the Denver Sponsor Dinner has raised millions of dollars for habitat conservation in its short history. Our volunteers make it happen every year, and they are the DU secret sauce."
The Denver chapter is unique in that it is a chapter of chapters. The committee's 60 volunteers hail from more than a dozen other Colorado chapters, with some living several hours away. Led again by Chairman Sam Wigand, this army of elite volunteers pulled off a flawless event in 2019, scoring big for conservation once more.
The top live-auction item, which brought a winning bid of $28,000, was a complete collector's set of matched serial-number Beretta 687EL shotguns from Scheels All Sports (see sidebar). Participants also entered high bids for a fly-in golfing and hunting excursion in Nebraska donated by the Dismal River Club, hunting in Texas (Spread Oaks Ranch), fishing and hunting in Argentina (Andes Drifters), and stag hunting in New Zealand (John Scurr Hunting Tours). As in years past, Denver event attendees also enjoyed generous donations by Laws Whiskey and Coors.
When the inaugural Denver event was planned in 2014, the committee set a goal of raising $4 million before 2020. The sixth annual event generated more than $864,000, bringing the impressive running total to over $4.24 million for DU's conservation mission. View a time-lapse video of the 2019 event at youtu.be/DWh3HfaEJLg.
Scheels Ensures Mile-High Success
The featured auction item at the sixth annual Denver Sponsor Dinner was a custom-engraved matching set of Beretta 687EL shotguns (12-, 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge) generously donated by Scheels All Sports. This employee-owned company is a leader in outdoor recreation retail. The shotguns generated $28,000 for DU’s conservation mission. Thank you to Scheels and the many other supporters who made the Denver event a huge success.