• Photo of Beach
  • Oaklawn's 'Under the Sea' benefit auction draws hundreds to FireKeepers

    MARSHALL – With a goal of boosting community health care, hundreds of people filled the FireKeepers Casino Hotel ballroom Saturday, March 7, during the 30th annual Oaklawn Hospital Benefit Auction. 

    As has happened during past Oaklawn auctions, many of those attending took the “Under the Sea” theme seriously by adorning themselves in swim gear, shark suits and other ocean-related costumes. 

    Meanwhile, bidders competed for hundreds of auctioned items – including trips, event and show tickets, memorabilia, specialty products, services and gift certificates – all donated by individuals and regional businesses. Many of the items reflected products, services and events related to the event's theme. 

    One particularly happy winner was area resident Ryan Mysen, who won a pearl jewelry ensemble of a necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings, created by Hodges Jewelers of Marshall and valued at $2,800. 

    Another was Marcia Tomkiewicz, who won a “Sleep Under the Sea” raffle package offered by BluFish Consulting, including an overnight experience at the aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. 

    Irene Johnston, RN, who is Oaklawn's clinical nurse director, went home with the evening's “treasure chest,” a Yeti brand cooler loaded with items valued at more than $1,200 and including picnic items and a home WiFi system, donated by Mike Darling/ACE Hardware of Marshall. 

    This year's chief focus was to raise funds to support Oaklawn's pediatric rehabilitation services and to purchase equipment for lead testing in pediatric patients at all Oaklawn primary-care offices, organizers said.

    Those attending were able to view a special video presentation focusing on how last year's auction funds were used to upgrade and purchase new technology for Oaklawn's orthopedic services. The video focused on the new Mako robotic surgical system, a Stryker product that will permit Oaklawn’s expanding orthopedic and sports medicine services to perform partial and total knee replacements with reduced complications. 


    The video was developed from the perspective a recent patient, Nobel Schuler, and Oaklawn physical therapist Amy Doepker. In the video, Oaklawn President and CEO Gregg Beeg thanked donors for their support in helping to make the new services available. 

    In person at the auction, Beeg also addressed those attending and thanked all of this year's sponsors, donors, volunteers and staff for their efforts to bolster Oaklawn's pediatric rehabilitation services. 

    Since 1991, the annual auction has raised funds approximating $2 million, allowing Oaklawn to purchase clinical equipment and provide health-care services to its patients throughout the communities it serves. Since 2015, the event has been held at FireKeepers, situated between Marshall and Battle Creek. 

    “It was an extremely successful night,” said Corrie Rozell, auction chair and chief operating officer of Marshall Community Credit Union, who also thanked FireKeepers for its efforts in making the evening memorable. 

    “Everybody had a fun time and it was great to see so many people show up in support of Oaklawn,” she said.