With fewer than thirty tickets sold, the crowd at the Duke of York on Monday night was quieter than we expected it to be when the event was in its initial planning stages just three months ago.
We took only half of the entire floor that we had reserved from the Duke to fit the thirty-five of us into comfortable seats. While we mingled as people streamed in, five students from the York Celtic Ensemble played a selection of fantastic music. I wasn’t sure what to expect from them at all, but with a high endorsement from Andrew we banked on quality and were pleasantly surprised even so. They played beautifully and I am hoping we will be hearing from them again in the near future here at the Wayfarers.
As people entered, they were greeted by Andrew at the top of the stairway just inside the Duke’s front doors. A handbill that explained who we are and what we do was given to them, and included a pair of coupons – one for Flirty Girl Fitness and one for L.A. Fitness – that would provide some free or discounted workout time at each of the facilities to all of our attendees.
Just inside the door of the beautiful Queen Bess room at the Duke was our silent auction table. Two pieces of art on canvas, six pieces of jewellery, an autographed series of books, monthly passes at LA Fitness, a ten-class punchcard at Flirty Girl Fitness and a handwritten letter to be sent from Scotland by us while we’re there were amongst our generously-donated auction items. More than $400 was raised throughout the night from these tables with the help of our fantastic guests.
As the night went on, we all managed to mingle with most of the guests who attended thanks to the smaller crowd. I was amazed at the diverse attendance, and so happy that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even if they didn’t seem so sure on seeing the crowd. Dinner orders were taken as the music was wrapping up, and people were ready to eat.
As the music faded around 7:30, I stood up and said some words with the Wayfarers about what our cause is and what inspired it.
We are here today as our own fellowship – our own group of people here to make a difference. My name is Dan. Many of you already know me. I had the idea for the Wayfarers and our Quest one day while walking the immeasurably gruelling twelve kilometers to Paul’s house in early June of last year. “How great would it be,” I asked myself, “if I did more than twice this distance, every day, for weeks on end?
“What if I did it in costume? No – in armour?”
I knew before I’d finished the walk that evening that I wanted to do this – the fire lit in my head was not going to be ignored just because of the clear difficulties I already saw rising on the horizon.
To help me fight those difficulties I went to some heroes of my own.
My favourite part of the night was being able to introduce the Wayfarers. I didn’t do it perfectly – the speech was far from my best work – but when I call these men my heroes, I am not just using a turn of phrase. Each and every one of them has been a hero to me in one way or another, without even taking into account this Quest of ours. This Quest is just taking it to a whole new level.
After I was done saying my piece, we sat down to a feast: people had a choice of Caesar salad, Scotch broth, or mixed greens for an appetizer, which was put down as I finished my speech. The wait staff, Elaine and Melanie, were unbelievably helpful and on-the-ball despite the crowd; they were some of the best bartenders and bar staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with in any capacity. The Duke’s kitchens were quick with the food, too: steaming Steak and Stilton pot pies, tenderly battered fish and chips, or rich Bombay chicken curry was brought upstairs on the double and everyone ate before anyone got restless. I had the pot pie myself and can speak only to its quality – utterly divine – but have heard great things about all of the food that was served. The brownie or sticky toffee pudding that our guests had the choice of for dessert sealed the deal and made sure that we would keep the Duke in mind for our next event.
The silent auction ended just before 9pm, with the more than 15 items being given out and paid for in short order. Despite our having the ability to take credit card payments for the items, everyone opted to pay with cash. It made our job easier at the end of the night calculating our totals, and the promptness with which people handed it to us (and the smiles on their faces when they did so) went a long way to easing any stresses that may have come with running an event like this.
The event was without a doubt a resounding success, and the Wayfarers knew before we left that with it had come a significant new milestone: at the Duke, we hit $10,000 in worldwide donations. This is a huge number and mind-boggling to all of us, and with it we can see our goal from a bit higher up on the mountain ahead.
We have a number of other great events planned this year, so keep your eyes peeled… but I’d like to leave you with the end of the speech I gave on Monday, as I think it makes a point about all of you that should not go unheard:
Dumbledore’s Army, the Pevensey family and the Fellowship of the Ring have two very important things in common. First, they stood up against something bigger than themselves. They saw wrongdoing, they saw hurt and darkness and pain, and they said “I can do something about that.” Second, they did their epic deeds with the help of hundreds, even thousands of people.
Without those people, none of the heroes we read about now could have found success. Without you, we can’t either.
Thank you, everyone.