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Grizzlies Gala deemed a success

Organizers of Missouri State University-West Plains' (MSU-WP) "Grizzlies Gala: Promoting Excellence in Athletics" have deemed the April 8 fund-raising event "a success."
Although monetary figures have not been finalized, organizers said nearly 250 supporters of Grizzly Athletics enjoyed an evening filled with fun and celebration.
"Those who attended the gala, presented by West Plains Bank & Trust Company, were treated to a special evening full of intrigue and entertainment," said Crockett Oaks, interim athletic director. "We were so pleased with the attendance and the sponsorship and participation from our area businesses."
One of the highlights of the evening was the announcement by West Plains Bank & Trust Company President and CEO David M. Gohn of the addition of a new Grizzly debit card to the bank's Community Debit Card Program.
The program works like this: Each time a Grizzly debit card is used to make a purchase at a retailer, the bank will add to a donation, which will be paid to MSU-WP annually. The funds donated can be used for any university program or project.
West Plains Bank launched the program in 2012, and since then, more than $330,000 has been donated to area schools and healthcare services in communities where the bank has branch locations, according to bank officials.
Grizzly debit cards are available now at any West Plains Bank & Trust Company full-service branch.
After Gohn's announcement, attendees took part in a live auction conducted by Gary Sexton of Sexton Auction Service. Items included experience packages and sports collectibles, among other items. Bidding on a number of items was fast and furious as the competition between bidders heated up. The result was an entertaining experience for all.
"Gary Sexton provided a first-class auction that allowed our students and guests to see just how special the Ozarks are when it comes to raising funds by this method," Oaks said. "Several of our students commented on how interesting the auction was."
Oaks noted several auction items were provided by various entities outside of the West Plains area. They include McBee Farms, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Cardinals, Glock International, Silver Dollar City, Springfield Cardinals and internationally-acclaimed artist Bolaji Ogunwo.
Auction items provided by local businesses and individuals included Dennis Crider Photography, Elite Gutters, The Frame Shop & Gallery, and John Plummer, to name a few, Oaks added.
Following the auction, attendees relocated to the civic center theater for a keynote address by Dr. Gary Bates, superintendent of schools at Fort Sam Houston Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas. Bates, a West Plains native with more than 20 years of experience in public education, encouraged student-athletes to take advantage of their opportunities and become the best versions of themselves.
The evening also included an added touch of "pageantry" as guests entered and exited the event through a selection of new cars placed outside the main entrance of the civic center. Once inside the center, they viewed some of the latest golf carts available in a tip of the hat to the annual Grizzly Golf Tournament held each fall. And, as they entered the civic center arena, they took a trip back in time as they paraded through a selection of classic cars.
"A special thanks to Taylor Grubaugh Chevrolet-Buick-GMC, Clear Creek Golf Cars and Chad Coble and friends for their assistance in organizing this aspect of our gala," Oaks said.
"We'd also like to issue special thanks to Ozark Healthcare and Hirsch Feed & Farm Supply Inc. for being our Top Shelf Sponsors, Don's Auto Service for sponsoring our entertainment, and Pepsi Mid-America and 155th District State Rep. Travis Smith (R-Twin Bridges) for serving as our beverage sponsors," Oaks said. "The support of our sponsors means so much to the success of these types of events.
"We'd also like to thank everyone who supported this event in any way," he added. "It truly was a community-wide event that came together nicely to successfully support our student-athletes."
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