Search and Rescue move annual fundraiser online amid pandemic

Trista Gordon and Russell Gordon host an online raffle to support the Lincoln County Search and Rescue. The event, which has been a barbecue fundraiser in previous years, was held online to comply with social distancing orders. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Karla Toomer)

KEMMERER — Binoculars — going, going, gone! The first online raffle on Friday, April 24 by the Lincoln County Search and Rescue (LCSR) took exactly 37 minutes. They had planned on several hours for the 47 items to be sold, then up to two more hours for all payments to come in, with the raffle possibly being held on Saturday. To call the event a success is an understatement. But to have a successful event is a definite win in the time of coronavirus.

Typically, the LCSR holds a summer barbeque fundraiser to support its program. They get a small amount of funding from the county budget but use the annual fundraiser for big ticket items that could be used in the many search options that may arise.

This year, it is uncertain if they will be able to hold the popular event. Like other organizations facing COIVD-19-related detours, they were unsure how they were going to supplement their operating expenses without the barbeque. These expenses are very important to having the correct gear for the variety of missions they are involved in.

The first raffle took place on Friday evening, April 24. The item of the night, a pair of Vortex Crossfire HD 8x42 binoculars valued at $190. Cost was $4 a ticket and Russell and Trista Gordon went “live” at 6:30 p.m., online. People picked one or more numbers 1-47 and then made a comment. LCSR responded when they recorded the number. Then, an electronic payment was made and once that happened, the bidder was set! The numbers flew off the page. There were around 18 individuals that filled up the spots. In less than 45 minutes, Lincoln County Search and Rescue posted, “WE HAVE ALL THE SPOTS FILLED! WE WILL CHECK FOR PAYMENT AND GO LIVE WHEN WE DRAW A WINNER!”

Just before 7:30 p.m., LCSR was going live with this announcement, “OKAY EVERYONE WE ARE GOING TO GO LIVE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MINUTES TO DRAW A WINNER!!!!” and shortly after, the stream started.

Russell Gordon, a Lincoln County Search and Rescue member, and his wife Trista did the raffle drawing together. All the numbers were on individual papers, folded and placed in a bucket. A paper was drawn by Russell, No. 24, and a winner announced by Trista: Crystal Williams. Russell said, “Congratulations!” Trista added, “Again, we just want to say thank you to everybody who donated. This went amazing for us.” Russell added, “Thank you for all your support.”

They advertised for this first raffle online in the days leading up to the event with this announcement, “Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Lincoln County Search and Rescue is trying our hand at some new fundraising techniques. We are going to be holding raffles here on our page for various items. The prices to buy into the raffles will vary depending on the value of the item. Please watch our page for more upcoming information.”

The raffle comments piled up on Friday night, with people buying between one and five tickets, although no limit was stated. After the winner was picked live, Lincoln County put out this thank you on its Facebook page: “We would like to thank everyone who supported our raffle tonight! We learned a lot and hope to do more in the coming weeks!”

Trista wrote, “We will be doing more in the future so keep an eye on our Facebook page.” Tune in to facebook/lincolncountysearchandrescue for an opportunity to support your local first resonders.

Russell, the third in command for LCSR as a lieutenant, said the group has 11 officers who are elected from the group every two years. They have a pretty full team right now with a few spots open. Interested applicants need to be sponsored by a current member. Lincoln County Search and Rescue operates under the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

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