Bob Padecky has seen some things in his time. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat sports columnist has covered 22 Super Bowls, 19 World Series, four Olympic Games and “Way too many Barry Bonds’ games.”
Nothing has affected him like the December night he drove into the Coffee Park neighborhood and saw first hand the wasteland created by the October fires.
“I had seen pictures, but it was nothing like what I saw and felt as I drove by burned out cars and sat under the lights and looked at the devastation. I knew I had to do something,” he says.
That “something” grew into a super memorabilia party with dinner with a live band. a raffle along with silent and live auctions with all proceeds going to fire relief efforts.
Just added this week to an already impressive events list was former San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Noah Lowry who will be guest speaker.
The event, dubbed: “More Than a Game: An Auction and Sports Memorabilia for Fire Relief, will be held March 12 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Brewster’s Beer Garden Restaurant at 229 Water St. North.
Entry cost of $20 includes a buffet prepared by Brewster’s, music by the Dirty Red Barn Band, a live and silent auction and a raffle for an array of autographed and other memorabilia from world-class sports stars, past and present. Brewster’s is not only donating the facility, but all ticket proceeds go toward the recovery efforts.
The columnist refuses to label the event a fundraiser for fire “victims,” preferring to stress that the funds will be used to help them with their efforts to rebuild their lives.
He is also adamant about making it a Sonoma County event.
He acknowledges that, given the exclusive nature of many of the items donated by world-famous athletes, he might bring in more money by conducting an on-line auction, but wants to keep it as local as possible.
“I want this to be a positive event for Sonoma County,” he explains. “Symbolically, it means a lot to me. Rather than sell a Joe Montana-autographed football to someone out of the area, I would rather have someone take it home.”
Even the band is Petaluma-based. Well-known in the area for its unique “Americana” sound, the Dirty Red Barn released its debut albumn last year. Among others, the group has opened for Pablo Cruz.
The fundraiser is the second Padecky has hosted. Three years ago, he put together a similar event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
He says he had forgotten just how much work was involved. He acknowledges there have been glitches along the way, but he has persevered.
“My wife says I put my life on hold,” he says. “I have my phone stapled to my chest.”
For him, every phone call, every detail, every hour invested is worth the effort.
“The fires are out, but the people who lost so much face years and years of recovery. It is not over yet for them. I just thought, ‘I have to help these people,’” he says.
The list of items Padecky has rounded up for both the live and silent auctions are enough to stock a sports museum and quicken the heart rate of the most avid memorabilia collector.