Guilderland High School graduates are reuniting 35 years after commencement to reconnect and reminisce, but some are also using their artistic talents to help children’s wishes come true.
The Guilderland Class of 1978’s reunion on Saturday, Oct. 12, will honor more than 20 deceased classmates through an online auction benefitting the Northeast New York Make-A-Wish Foundation. There will also be a silent auction during the event at the Pinehaven Country Club in Guilderland exclusively for the class reunion. Auction items include original items from class artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs, along with items donated by area businesses.
“We have a lot of very artistic classmates and initially we talked about trying to raise some money through our donations from artists and craftspeople that are class members,” class reunion committee member Terri Knapp Ramos said.
Knapp Ramos, of Waterford, said fellow committee member Sylvia Aronson, of Saratoga, spearheaded the idea for the auction, which grew to include items donated from businesses. She said the class wanted to do something to honor deceased classmates.
“We all thought what a wonderful tribute to the classmates that have passed away,” she said. “As we were trying to locate classmates to let them know about our upcoming 35th reunion, we sometimes would hear of ones that had passed away.”
There are 22 classmates she knows that have died since graduation, with the youngest dying a year after the class received their diplomas and the most recent passing away around a year ago.
She said the families of those classmates being remembered were notified to let them know a loved one is being honored.
“They are really so pleased to know their loved ones are being remembered all these years later,” Knapp Ramos said.
Make-A-Wish uses donations to help grant wishes to children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses.
The auction includes a ski package for two at Gore Mountain, two tours of the historic Beekman Farm with a $25 gift certificate for dining at the American Hotel in Saratoga Springs, four tickets to the ballet at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, four tickets to see The Gibson Brothers at Lillian’s in Saratoga Springs, the Straight Trifecta Card Racing Package for up to four people at Saratoga Race Course, two tickets to Proctors Theatre and items for other regional attractions.
Class members donated many items, including paintings from Sally McCarthy, Judy Aronson, Frankie Flores, Sheila Hamblin and a print from Manaber Mori; photographs by Michael Korol, Saul Aronson, Connie Bush and Sylvia Aronson; along with other items such as a glass bead necklace by Rhea Doran.
Hamblin, of Oklahoma, said he was “delighted to receive an invitation” and donated her original painting of New Mexico scenery.
Stephanie Takes-Desbiens, a blogger living in Maine, is excited to attend the reunion and bid on items.
“I’m planning to attend,” Takes-Desbiens said, “and when the auction starts, I’ll be first in line to bid.”
Make-A-Wish chapter CEO Bill Trigg said this is the first time the foundation has partnered with a class reunion to raise funds.
“It’s inspiring to meet a group that wants to have fun together and support a great cause in honor of their fellow classmates,” Trigg said.
Make-A-Wish spokesman Tim Riley said previously, classes have donated to the foundation upon graduating, but the reunion offered a unique opportunity.
“It is also interesting they have such a high number of classmates that are artists and willing to donate their own works,” Riley said. “Even though it is a class donation it is also sort of personal outreach on the part of a lot former students, which makes it pretty memorable.”
The auction can be accessed by visiting neny.wish.org and clicking on the link in the “upcoming events” section. Though the auction is publicly listed it is meant to be open to Guilderland graduates, students and their families, along with Make-A-Wish community members.
“The committee that has worked on this has put a lot of thought into making this a memorable part of what be a nice weekend for their reunion,” Riley said.
Knapp Ramos said even with social networks offering easier ways to connect with former classmates, meeting in person still can’t be beat.
“With the dynamics of Facebook, nowadays we have been able to reconnect a lot of us that way,” she said. “It will be nice to see people face-to-face.”