Democrats Date for Charity
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Democrats Date for Charity

Valentine’s date auction raises $1,294 for Monroe Scholarship Fund.

After years of volunteering for campaigns and fundraisers, getting a date should have been the easiest assignment Cam Modecki ever had.

But the being the object of a bidding war proved to be more difficult than he expected. “It was nerve-wracking!” he said.

Modecki was one of 22 local activists who volunteered for Arlington Young Democrats’ second annual Valentine’s Day “Buy a Date with a Democrat” Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction, held Thursday, Feb. 13 at the Car Pool, 4000 Fairfax Dr.

Last year, the event raised $1,400, half of which went to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. This year, organizers added to the event and raised $2,587, half of it earmarked for the Charles Monroe Education Fund, providing tuition assistance to the high school-age sons of the late County Board chair who died suddenly last month.

Helping the Monroe family motivated Modecki, and many others who both volunteered and bid on dates. Ingrid Morroy won the bidding war for the date with Modecki with a bid of $230, the highest bid of the evening. “It’s a lot of money for a good cause,” she said.

Morroy, one of two Democrats running for Commissioner of Revenue this November, said party loyalty played a part in her decision to bid. “Cam Modecki is a very good Democrat,” she said. “He’s committed to his cause.”

Political dedication wasn’t the only asset for those being auctioned, Morroy confessed. “He’s good-looking too,” she added.

SINGLES LOOKING for a Valentine’s date purchased a bid-card for $5, which entitled them to bid on dates, starting at $25. That price had some of the bachelors and bachelorettes nervous. “My nightmare is that the audience falls silent,” said Anne Tyler Hamblin, who participated this year after receiving last year’s highest bid, $160.

Roger Landsman also worried about the bids before he took the stage for his own auction. “I need to go for at least $45,” he said. “My ego won’t be hurt at $45.”

Alfonso Lopez, the Young Democrats member who emceed the event, worked to motivate the crowd to spend more.

He introduced bachelors and bachelorettes as they took the stage, asking them to describe their ideal date before urging the crowd to keep raising the bids. But the game show approach was all in fun, he said. Organizers weren’t sure just what to expect once the auction began. “We’ll go on the fly I guess,” he said.

His all-in-fun approach led to some friendly competition among some bachelors and bachelorettes, as men and women sold early in the night hung around to see how much others sold for. “There’s a lot of competition, a lot of cute chicks around,” joked Liz Merrill, one of the bachelorettes. The top bachelorette was Lisa Smith, who drew a winning bid of $160.

Bachelors proved to be the evening’s hot property, though, with bidding wars between women pushing the price for Modecki up to $230, and several others over the $100 mark. Merrill herself entered the bidding, winning a date with local resident Ben Allen for $80.

SOME YOUNG DEMOCRATS had a simple strategy for recruiting bachelors and bachelorettes for the auction. “We just begged,” said Beth Bolling, who helped coordinate the event.

Last year she agreed to be the first bachelorette auctioned off. This year she escaped the auction. “If you didn’t want to be auctioned, you had to find two people to replace you,” she said.

The honor, or hazard, of being first onstage this year went to Wendy Beckenstein, a teacher at Campbell Elementary School. Beckenstein didn’t participate in last year’s auction and said she wasn’t sure what to expect when she took the stage. “Which is probably for the best,” she said, “There’s less nervousness.”

Nervousness and stage fright were a small price to pay for helping the Charles Monroe Scholarship Fund, said Beckenstein. By raising $1,294 for the fund in just a few hours, the event exceeded organizers’ expectations.

“Thrilled doesn’t even explain how I feel about it,” said Drenan Dudley, president of the Young Democrats. The annual date auction exemplifies the group’s goals, she said – “It’s fun, but the underlying concern is to put our values into action.”