Thursday, March 17, 2016

What You Missed - Blue Rose Charity Casino Night by Jason "Aeston" Rosa

[EDITOR'S NOTE: included at the bottom of the page is a special thank-you from Kevin "Kwartz" DeSousa]

As I have been assigned the enviable task of writing up the “What You Missed” for the Charity Casino Night, I want to use this forum as an opportunity to do a couple other things concurrently. I would like to explain to all of you how the event took form due to the overwhelming support for one another that we create as a community, and I want to earnestly thank the individuals who made the event successful.
It began, of course, with a tragic event. It's a terrible thing, but it wouldn't be right if we ignored the fact that all of this was set in motion because of a horrible moment that changed someone's life forever. On a day in January, Manny DeSousa, sister of one of our community's most storied members, Kevin (Kwartz) DeSousa, was struck by a vehicle when she was crossing the street in Boston. She sustained serious head injuries and was admitted in critical condition to the hospital. 

Kevin had been living, somewhat reclusively, in Colorado for the past few years, but the relationships forged in our community do not so easily wither with distance or time. Kevin was a Knight of the Blue Rose, an Order that prides itself on brotherhood and taking care of one another. And it was a fellow knight, one of Kevin’s oldest friends, Ray McGuirk, who first brought the idea of this event to the table. We had raised money for community members in the past to great effect, so we knew we would have success throwing a fundraising event to help Manny's family. The Knights got together to plan. The loose shape of a social event with gambling and food began to take shape. PJ Gray arranged for the hall, and since the Order of the Moose makes its hall available for free for charity events and since PJ had a previous relationship with them, we were able to eliminate a significant expense from our overhead.

Somewhere along the line, the idea changed from "generic social event" to Casino Night. James Murphy had already volunteered his services to help entertain people, but all of a sudden the main burden of entertainment would be on the Clontarf Casino. It would take a lot of transport, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. But James didn't even hesitate. He made available all of his equipment and all of his experience, and the wealth of suggestions and advice he gave was even more valuable than the substantial amount of gold he contributed to the effort. 

But if there was one moment, one act, that made this event gain the momentum it needed to be efficacious, it was the generosity of Henry Giasson, who of his own accord picked up the phone and offered to fly Kevin in for the weekend. Our initial thought was that we would have a humble, laid back event that would be able to earn a modest amount for the charity, but with the boon of Kevin attending, all of a sudden the concept took on a life of its own. The promise of him being with us stirred many people to action, securing promises of help and attendance that went far beyond what we initially expected. Henry, through his selflessness, had elevated every aspect of what we sought to do.

Other parts continued to fall into place as people stepped up to help. Steve Hinkle, proprietor of NexGen Comics, offered to run a sealed booster Magic tournament to draw more people in. People and nations began to pledge goods and event entries: Grimloch and the Bronze Forge, Karmha Creations, Chaos Dwarf Armory, Blackwood and the Clontarf Casino, NexGen Comics, Rhiassa and the Gilded Lion, Neden and Baptiste Butchery, Ashenmark, Chimeron and Realms Outfitters, Eagle’s Rook, the Gambler’s Guild (and especially John Berman), Creathorne and especially a wealth of valuable items from Andy Disbrow, and Folkestone. Members of every group above donated items and certificates to the auctions, gold to the cache we had to sell, and food for our various dinners, and none of them were the least bit shy about donating cash on top of all of these things as well.

The event itself welcomed people from all around the Realms. Members of Ashenmark, Rhiassa, Grimloch, Invictus, Creathorne, Neden, Chimeron, Blackwood, Folkestone, The Blackhearts, The Oaken Guard, Mythguard, and an array of other individuals as well. People who had been friends with Kevin for decades, and people that had never met him before. People who showed up to have fun, people who showed up with the intention to spend hundreds of dollars. It was a true community event, and it demonstrated how deeply everyone feels the bonds of that community when they know others need them the most.

We did our best to provide as much entertainment as we could, all with the hope of earning money for the charity. People bought gold as they arrived and gambled at table games all night long. We had 16 entrants to the high-stakes poker tournament, which I am told is the largest Stacked Deck table to date. People were served drinks from the bar and ate from the vast array of food that we had available, a first dinner, a second dinner, and dessert. The Magic tournament went on into the night. People beat a piñata for candy and gold, people played bingo for an array of small prizes, people spent money on tickets for the prize auction and for the cash 50/50. The Clontarf Casino hosted games of Deal or No Deal that solicited much excitement and many spectators. The cash-bidding auction showed off some of the most impressive items I had yet to see at an event.

As we got to the end of the night, my wife and I counted up the donations as best as we could. In the end the sales of gold (including the limited edition Blue Rose coin) amounted to just about $3500. Sales of tickets for both the prize auction and the 50/50 were about $700. The cash-bidding auction itself raised just shy of $1000. Event admission fees were well in excess of $1000, with 100% of that money going right to the charity. Including bingo, the piñata, and people donating money just for the sake of doing so, all in all the grand total of the night (after a couple of recountings) was an even $6700. It was more than any of us expected, and we tried, feebly, to express the depth of our gratitude that night to everyone in attendance.

When Kevin spoke to the crowd at the end, he spoke about family, and friends, and how looking out for one another is at the very core of who we are as a community. We use that word alot, “community.” In those times when we are at odds with one another, which can be often, the word is sometimes spat out as an insult. I’ve seen the word leveraged as guilt, I’ve seen the word muddied with personal grievances. It’s not always a word that we treat as respectfully as we might, given that what we have built here in this world is in a lot of ways very unique. But during times like these, times where we are besieged by tragedy and must rely on one another, that is when the value of this community shows itself. At the Blue Rose Charity Casino Night we came together as a community. We came together to celebrate our friendships. We came together to accomplish an important task for all the right reasons.

To everyone who participated in the evening -  those who planned, those who donated, and those who attended, you have my deepest thanks, and the thanks of everyone in the Knightly Order. We are very proud of what we were able to accomplish together. You should all take pride in it as well.

A special thank-you from Kevin "Kwartz" DeSousa:
Before I left, I’ve been playing this game for 14yrs.  I’ve been gone for 7yrs and the kindness and generosity that I saw and felt on Saturday March 12th, was the single most humbling experience I have ever felt.  My mom used to hate the fact that I would spend all this money for events weekend after weekend after weekend but I would let her know that the people I hang out with on the weekend are like my extended family.  That proved true at the Blue Rose Casino Event, raising $6500 for my sister, to help with hospital bills, to help with rehab, and her future is phenomenal.   Also to be accepted like I did by players that I never even met was also a fantastic experience.  By the way Phoenix, you owe Rubis a new Harry Potter Scarf!!! 

   I did call my parents in Portugal @ 6am in the morning to let them know how AWESOME you all are!  The next day when I gave the lockbox to my niece and had her open it in front of the family tears came to our eyes.  I can sit here and say thank you until I’m blue in the face but I don’t think those words do you all justice.  Everyone who went to the event, donated money and time to assist the Blue Rose you are all AMAZING, and I can say without a doubt that March 12th will go down as the greatest event I have ever been too.   So since I have a small English vocabulary, “FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY FAMILY’S HEART, THANK YOU!”

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