Sports fans put on ball caps and jerseys of their favorite teams in an effort to score big bucks for excellence through the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation on Feb. 23.

Sports fans put on ball caps and jerseys of their favorite teams in an effort to score big bucks for excellence through the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation on Feb. 23.

Dale Foor, president of the GJEF, said the Gahanna Gala's All-Star Evening that was a sellout, with about 425 guests at the Villa Milano, is expected to surpass last year's $112,000, with final totals approaching $123,000.

The Fund-A-Need pledges to purchase iPads throughout the district totaled about $22,500, Foor said.

The Gahanna Gala, formerly known as the Celebration of Excellence, is the foundation's main fundraiser that supports district programming.

Over the past eight years, the foundation has generated more than $650,000 from the fundraiser. Two-thirds of the proceeds go to the grants program, and one-third is invested to create an endowment.

Foor said $450,000 in grants and an additional $150,000 in donor designated projects and scholarships have been awarded.

In addition to the change in the event's name this year, a new bidding procedure also was initiated, called BidPal.

The electronic clicker device looks like a smartphone and allows users to view an auction item by number to submit a bid or check on its status.

"We feel by going to the BidPal system, we had a significant increase in silent-auction proceeds," Foor said. "The overwhelming feedback from guests is that it made for a very enjoyable evening for them. It was less hectic, and it was fun for them to monitor items and bid."

Susie Nuss, parent of two students at Jefferson Elementary School, said the fundraiser is a win-win for everyone involved, with guests being able to purchase great goods and services and the schools benefiting from the proceeds.

Nuss sported her cheerleader uniform from her alma mater, New Philadelphia High School, where she graduated in 1985.

"We came to this last year and loved it," she said. "My husband, Tim, is a Gahanna graduate. He's dressed as a soccer player."

Gahanna parent Brian Scott wore Atlanta Braves gear, from his ball cap to his tennis shoes.

"I just came back from spring training," he said. "This night is right up my alley. I usually walk out with an army (of stuff)."

Scott, parent of three Gahanna students, said he usually bids on restaurant certificates for his family, and he also favors the sports memorabilia. He liked that the new bidding system allowed him to monitor the items he wanted.

"The last five minutes (of bidding) used to be crazy," Scott said.

Lee Roy and Beth Bentley attended the All-Star Evening because they have a sixth- and eighth-grader at Middle School East.

She wore her Gahanna Lions gear and even painted her fingernails in blue and gold.

"We like the themes," she said. "It's fun."

Gahanna schools supporters Kim Kessler and Lisa Grooms browsed the silent-auction items together with the new BidPal.

"It's easy," Grooms said. "And I'm not computer savvy."

Grooms is a Middle School East teacher, and Kessler is a Heartland Bank affiliate.

Foor said the gala's live auction raised $19,000. Of the live-auction items, the Columbus Crew package sold for $1,700; the Four Fair Ladies (girls night out) sold for $2,100 and An Evening with the Arts went for $1,100.

The silent-auction item with the most bids -- 32 -- was an autographed Archie Griffin jersey, selling for $320. Other silent-auction items and the winning bids were dinner at Cap City Diner for eight, $580; Browns-Steelers game, $524; an evening with Arnett Howard, $525; and Michael Shank Racing Team at Mid-Ohio, $450.

"The teachers and students are blessed to have such support from those who come and invest in educational opportunities for them," Foor said. "I give a heartfelt thanks to the many volunteers who allowed the evening to go very smoothly."

Through the vision of the school business advisory committee and the support of the Gahanna Rotary and Gahanna Fund, Foor said, the GJEF was created to provide a community focus on education in 2002.

The purpose of the GJEF is to promote excellence by funding innovative projects beyond the traditional expenditures of the G-J Board of Education.

Foor said the foundation plans to continue to fund competitive grants and provide a means to allow individuals to make designated donations in support of specific academic programs or scholarships.

Anyone interested in becoming a business partner or volunteer should call Foor at 614-416-0298 or email