The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation celebrated 10 years of promoting excellence in the school district during the Feb. 22 Gahanna Gala at Villa Milano.

The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation celebrated 10 years of promoting excellence in the school district during the Feb. 22 Gahanna Gala at Villa Milano.

Foundation president Dale Foor said it's celebration time because $1.4 million has been raised from all sources that contribute to the foundation over the past decade.

The anniversary event also was the best and biggest, he said.

The sold-out Gahanna Gala brought 440 guests and set a live-auction record of $23,000. The total raised overall is estimated at $120,000.

The item that sold for the highest price was the State Dock Houseboat Vacation on Lake Cumberland, Ky., bringing in $3,400. Second-highest was a weeklong stay at a cabin in Harbor Springs, Mich., at $2,400. The hottest item with 16 bids was a graduation package, selling for $850.

Foor said the foundation also met the $25,000 goal for Fund A Need to purchase 100 Chromebooks that will be distributed throughout the district.

The gala also set a record by providing 560 packages for guests to bid.

Event coordinators provided Foor with a fake itinerary for the gala, pulling off a surprise that featured his daughter flying in from New York to help celebrate his last year of heading up the event.

Foor will retire at the end of the school year.

"I was honored," he said. "My family was there for the final thing. It was very humbling."

Over the past 10 years, Foor said, the foundation has awarded 450 grants in excess of $600,000, thanks to business partners and a caring community that have supported fundraising efforts to enrich educational programs and provide excellence throughout the district.

The event has grown from raising $63,000 at the first fundraiser at the Jefferson Country Club to about $120,000 this year.

Event coordinator Christy List said the gala sold out two weeks before the event.

"Overall, we were glad we had a sold-out crowd," she said. "We had great items this year. And we made it a celebration of Dale since he's leaving us."

She said the gala has come a long way over the years, considering what the foundation is able to provide with grants.

Jill Evans, a first-year special-education teacher, said the gala is an excellent event.

"It's a great crowd for a great cause," she said. "There's a wide variety of things to bid on."

Susie Nuss, parent of two Jefferson Elementary School students, attended the gala for the third time.

"It's a win-win," she said. "We love to support the schools. With this I can volunteer and get something super cool. The variety is great. You can get anything from a blender to a romantic getaway."

Westerville resident Kristen Cassady attended the gala with boyfriend Kyle Wood, a Gahanna Middle School West math teacher.

"This is great," she said. "I've bid on a couple things. And the food was fabulous."

Wood said Saturday's gala was a first for him.

"It's impressive," he said. "I didn't expect the magnitude of it. I've bid on a few golf items."

Rosemary Stout attended the gala on behalf of Strathmore Development.

"It's awesome," she said. "I'm impressed by the number of items for the silent auction."

Her friend, Nikki Johnsen, marveled at the quality and the quantity of items.

"It's great," she said. "It's nice they're doing it for the schools."

Foor said the best volunteers, totaling about 30, put a lot of sweat equity into the fundraiser.

"We have volunteers from data entry for Bidpal to the check-out crew," List said.

Foor said the future is bright for the foundation and future fundraisers.

"It has been my privilege and an honor to lead the education foundation for 10 years," he said.