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Benefit honors Gaylene Smith

When Kayla Smith’s mother, Gaylene, died of colon cancer two and a half years ago, Smith vowed to hold three fundraisers in her mother’s honor, benefiting the three organizations that helped her family out most.

The first two years, Smith raised money for Hospice of the Red River Valley and the Roger Maris Cancer Center. This year, the money will be going to the Jack and Jill Foundation.  “It’s Make A Wish for adults,” Smith said.

In April of 2010, the foundation paid for the Smith family to vacation in the Bahamas for a week, all expenses paid. Smith said her mother, who was a travel agent for years, booked so many trips to Atlantis Resort, she wanted to see it for herself, and Atlantis obliged.

“For my memories, my family will always have those, and I want to give more families memories,” Smith said for wanting to raise money for the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Her goal is to raise $10,000 for the foundation to give other families the gift of a lifetime — memories with their loved one.  “Might as well go big,” she said with a laugh of her third fund-raiser.

Besides the spaghetti feed fund-raiser, she is also selling Dilly Bars, a fund-raiser she’s done the last couple years — and a very popular fund-raiser at that.  “I love doing the Dilly Bar sales,” she said.  Last week, she sold Dilly Bars (courtesy of Dairy Queen) at a Frazee-Vergas sporting event and sold 500 that afternoon and evening.

Though the fund-raisers are for the organizations that helped her mom, the time and work are done in honor of her mother.

“It is so true, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” Smith said.  Yes, she said, she knew her mom was a great woman, but she didn’t realize how much so until her mom was gone.

Smith was diagnosed with colon cancer on June 8, 2009. She died on June 3 the following year, and her funeral was five days later, one year exactly from the day of her diagnosis.  “She was amazing. She always tried to make others happy.”

Benefit details

The all-you-can-eat spaghetti benefit is Saturday, March 30, from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Speak Easy. There will be a silent auction from 4 to 7 p.m. and a live auction at 7:30.  There will also be a free-will photo booth and other games that evening.

As of last week, Smith already had 160 silent auction items and 13 live auction items lined up. Plus, she said, she’s collecting more and more each day.  “They’ve all been really great,” she said of businesses willing to donate.

Even businesses that haven’t donated to the auction have donated $2,300 in cash so far.  “It’s going great, but we can always use more.”  Smith said it helps that her mom was so well known in the surrounding communities.

Donations can be dropped off at Travel Travel in the Washington Square Mall where Smith’s sister, Kristi, works.

Austin Bachmann will be the auctioneer for the evening.

Tickets to the spaghetti feed can also be purchased at Travel Travel.  Tickets are $25 and can also be purchased at the Hostel Hornet in Frazee and by contacting Kayla at 841-0023 or Children 6 and under are free.

Tables of eight can be purchased for $200, and business sponsors for tables can be made at $200 for bronze, $300 for silver and $500 for gold, which also includes eight drink tickets for gold level. The tables will be decorated according to the sponsoring business.

She said she’d like to thank everyone for all the support so far.  “It’s overwhelming.”

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.