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Lucky Drop

By partnering with an aerial photographer who volunteered his remote-control helicopter, the Keokuk (Iowa) Athletic Boosters held their first annual helicopter ball drop fundraiser in June.  

When a remote-controlled helicopter hovered over Joyce Park, a high school baseball and softball complex in Keokuk, Iowa, in June, a couple hundred people were on hand to see if luck was on their side. A fundraiser for the Keokuk Athletic Boosters Club, the first annual helicopter ball drop raised $1,700.

"The way it works is an aerial photographer volunteered his helicopter's services," says event coordinator Kim Wyatt. "He charged mileage and meals and the cost of his hotel room. Other than that, he just asked that we mention his business in the event's promotions."

For the event, 500 numbered plastic balls, including one red one, were dropped from the remote-controlled helicopter. Prior to the drop, the booster club worked with several of the high school's coaches, who had their student-athletes sell tickets. Costing $5, each ticket had a number from one to 500 on it. If the corresponding ball was one of the closest--or farthest--from the target, the ticket-holder won.

"We gave cash prizes to six people whose balls landed closest to the red ball," Wyatt says. "And we awarded nine prizes from our school spirit-wear cart to those whose balls landed the farthest away."

Wyatt says planning for the event was very simple. "We picked a date about a month in advance and cleared it with the helicopter owner," she says. "Then along with working with the coaches on the ticket sales, we asked the school's teachers to share the information through their e-mail lists."

In order to make sure a good-sized crowd would be on hand, the booster club scheduled the fundraiser to coincide with baseball and softball games that were being held at the field. "We knew people would be there for those games," Wyatt says. "And we wanted to have a crowd at the ball drop--so that worked well.

Wyatt says the ball drop would be an ideal fundraiser to hold during a football game. "But we already hold a different fundraiser during the football season and didn't want to compete with that one," she says. "Next year, we'll again hold he helicopter ball drop on one of the big baseball and softball game nights, but promote it more heavily."


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