;”The bidding will start at $10″ was a line that emcees Krystal Bradford and Jontue Austin got used to announcing Saturday night.
They also got used to keeping track of wildly flying white signs belonging to University students bidding for dates.
The Date Auction, held at Coffman Union, is an annual endeavor put on by the Business Association of Multicultural Students, which took a different approach this year by combining efforts with the Minnesota International Student Center – resulting in more than $2,600 raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The auction featured 15 students from a variety of student groups, including La Raza, Black Student Union, Black Motivated Women and numerous greek organizations.
Winning bids averaged in the $100s, but the largest bid, topping a previous auction record, was for $610.
Valarie Mahabir, a BAM board member, set the bidding record at the auction to win a date with Jakgrid Lerdgidkjon after a heated bidding war with Alex West, also a BAM member and fellow auctionee.
The money came from a pool of friends that couldn’t come to the event, but still wanted to support the cause, she said.
“All I know is that I was supposed to win,” Mahabir said.
West and Mahabir said the bidding war was “kind of planned,” but it drove bids higher than expected.
Their bidding approached the $250 range when journalism junior Nikki Bhalla yelled out a $500 bid.
“We didn’t know that was going to happen,” West said.
Bhalla said she knew something about the pool, but wanted to keep the war going higher.
Most “winners” happened to be friends or acquaintances of those up for auction.
Carolina Miralles, a first-year neuroscience student, said she was surprised to find out her date would be with a friend she used to study with.
“I had no idea he would even be here,” Miralles said. “I was really surprised.”
Supporting the organizations present was a popular theme.
Alex Baker, a finance sophomore, said he came to support his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, since St. Jude’s is one of its partners.
“I have a couple friends up for auction, too,” Baker said. “But I won’t be bidding tonight. I have a girlfriend.”
West said she wasn’t surprised that many of the bidders were BAM or MISA board members.
“We were glad that the groups came out to support,” West said. “They brought their friends and they could pool their money together.”
BAM President Joseph Sahar said the charity for the auction has always been related to disaster relief, but said organizers wanted to stay local this year and chose St. Jude “because of the impact they have on children and the research that they do and the potential to help.”
Lerdgidkjon, the $610 man, took Mahabir, West and another BAM board member, Krupa Bhakta, out for dessert at Applebee’s after the event.
The group agreed that after all the planning for the event, it was a relief to be done.
“I’m so sleepy,” Lerdgidkjon said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
“This is the most lethargic date ever,” West said.
Once seated at Applebee’s, Bhakta said, “It’s the rule of Applebee’s to start with dessert, and a toast to our date.”
And as the chocolate mousse and strawberry cheesecake dessert shooters were delivered to the table, the group raised their glasses together and toasted, “To the date auction and our $600 date.”