Monday, April 02, 2007

A Night Full Of Champions

"He's the pebble tossed into the silent stream, sending forth small, yet relentless ripples of change into the lives of everyone around him"~~ClayIzzaQT at CV

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Saturday night The Bubel-Aiken Foundation hosted a Gala in Raleigh to raise money for programs that allow children with disabilities to interact with their peers without disabilities. The night included a lovely dinner, an auction (that ended up raising almost $200,000), and a performance by Clay. Here are some thoughts and recaps from the attendees to give you are real feeling of the evening.

One of the most touching moments for me was Diane Bubel talking about her son Mike, on the video. He is autistic and is non verbal. She says she imagines conversations with Mike and believes he would tell her, "I just want to be a kid, Mom, I just want to play." Diane tears up at this statement and i think most of us did the same in the audience. The last few minutes of the video is of TBAF children playing with Clay singing Because You Loved me in the backgroud. It was the perfect song and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the it, it was a no longer a song about a man and a women, but it about anyone who is lifted up b/c of was beautiful and another tear jerker moment.

The first award recipient was Jonathan Bunzey. Jonathan is deaf and has some other cognitive issues, but that does stop him from working on the We Build People Campaign at the A.E. Finely YMCA, Raleigh. He raises maoney for kids with special needs to be have the same, fun camp experience at the Y that he has had. He raised more than 6400. this year. His acceptance speech which was interpreted by his mother was so sweet and moving.
The next recipient was coach Jim Johnson. Coach Johnson, as many of you know was the high school basketball coach that allowed his student team manager, young man by the name of Jason McElwain, who has autism, into the final home basketball game. J-Mac scored 20 points in just over four minutes, including 6 three point baskets. We watched a brief video clip and listened to a moving and impassioned speech by this very special and compassionate man. I had the opportunity to thank him at the end of the Gala.

The TBAF Beta Alph Volunteers were given an award and were represented by Pam Gaither, Dawn Graham, our own RaleighAikenfan, and Teresa Moss. Pam gave a beautiful speech sharing the award with all the Beta Alpha volunteers.

The last and final volunteer was the corporate sponsor State Farm, and I missed most of this speeech, due to leaving the room for a few minutes. State Farm did make an additional 8,000 donation last night and the gentleman accepting the award made an additional 1,000 donation.~~butterflyshine at CV

Now, onto Clay. The first thing I noticed--beside how gorgeous he was and how great he looked in that beard -- is that he was totally happy and completely relaxed. I saw no traces of tension, stress, anxiety, or discomfort at all. He was an Adonis, a clown, a joker, a sweetheart, and a mischief-maker. He was beautiful, adorable, witty, happy, and knee-slappingly, side-splittingly, pee-in-your-pants hilarious.~~Brightstar at CV
If Clay had not sang a note at the Gala the night
still would have been magical.~~CAP121 at CV
When I was in line for "coffee" (I don't drink the stuff) at the coffee bar right by Clay's table, a general announcement was made about the rest of the evenings events. And the Claytinis were mentioned. So, Linda Loveland turned to Clay and "What's a Claytini?"

Clay replied, "It's a martini with a little bit of me in it. It's a little bitter."~~scrpkym at the CH

THE AUCTION. There are no words to describe the absolute adorableness of that man. He flirted, cajoled, pouted, danced and shook his bootie, was totally incorrigible. I sat behind Faye, one seat over. She laughed and really seemed to enjoy his performances. I can’t imagine how he was as a child. I’m sure she has been exposed to his wiles before. Good thing she was a strong woman and could resist him. I sat by a very distinguished gentleman and his wife. Very formally dressed. We talked a bit about Raleigh and Dallas. He traveled on business to Dallas before he retired. He seemed surprised that I flew in just for the Gala. I then told him many of the attendees did. He later talked to Faye, so I’m pretty sure he was an acquaintance.

My friend pointed out to me that Faye’s profile and Clay’s were very similar. And in person, it is very noticeable. The nose and mouth and chin. She looked very pretty and stood outside the dining room and greeted the attendees as we came in. She also sold raffle tickets table to table. ~~auntdementia at CH

Clay is so funny without saying a word. He used his eyes, his nose, his lips and his entire body to convey a thought. For example using the wango-tango shirt as a prop to show love (hugging it), growth of his body,( couldn't button it) sex (rubbing it on his body and sniffing it) and finally waving it around his head like a stripper. Best example of salesmanship I have ever seen. ~~FearofH2O at CH
He mentioned “family” toward the beginning, referring to all of us there. I truly think he does think of his fans fondly now, as an extended family perhaps. Some are quiet and sweet, some get a little hyper at times, and some may be considered his “crazy Aunt Bernice” or something. But he is so free now with what he will say to us, and joke about with us, imply with us, and even scold us about. There is a lovely close feeling there, at the best times at least, and that bond, that flow of love and caring, is one of the very best things, to me, about this fandom.

And yes, sitting so close to him was powerful and awesome, but he was also very real---a happy, beautiful, charismatic man, but also just Clay, the Raleigh man who made good, with an incredible talent but a down-to-earth, down-home demeanor—the jokester, the teacher, the boy next door, the caring, earnest man with a heart as big as the room. How anyone can not love him is beyond me. He has me for life.~~Brightstar

The "Lover All Alone" Manuscript is absolutely beautiful! My husband and I will hang it in our home with pride on behalf of all of you: Clay's dedicated, giving and generous fans. Someday soon, we will donate this back to TBAF in order for them to raise even more money; something this precious and beautiful is meant to be shared with others who can appreciate it. ~~Cheryl, winner of the "Lover All Alone" manuscript
We sat next to a member of the Cardinal Club who was there with his wife. They were not particularly Clay fans but bought tickets to the Gala just to support the "hometown boy." He also said that there were not very many CC members in attendance. They were both simply blown away by Clay, the amount of $$$$ he was able to raise for the children - and the impact he had on everyone in the room! They left the Gala as new Clay fans and planned to attend their first Clay concert in Cary this Summer! They also planned on letting the other Cardinal Club members know what an extraordinary event they missed out on! Yaaaayyyyy!!! ~~ClaytonClayniac at the CB

It was then time for LIVE AUCTION/COMEDY HOUR...featuring none other than Clay Aiken (who said he wasn't planning on being involved, but his butt hurt from sitting too long - so he was). He was excited about the auctioneer (and mimicked auctioneer talk - real fast talking...imagine him doing that) and it was obvious he was going to be very involved in the process. With the first few items, there was a vacation to the mountains of NC, and Clay liked it so much - he kept bidding on it himself, but the guy wouldn't take his was funny! Then came other items such as signed Proud of Your Boy music score (which he doesn't remember....but he thinks he may have slept with), Invisible music/45, Grammy jacket came up and Clay really started getting into it with the crowd. He was interacting ALOT and pleading with the bidders for higher amounts "it's for the children" he would yell into the microphone....of which at one point - yes, ladies, he did have his finger in the mic stand....ONCE AGAIN. *thud*

The excitement came with a 2003 Wango Tango shirt (striped, bright colored) that he decided he was going to put on, take off, rub all over his body, and swing around his head like a stripper. NO LIE.

We think that went for $8k (OMG) and the winner got to collect on stage and got a big hug and kiss from Clay - sooooo worth the investment. The biggest item sold was the handwritten SCORE of Lover All Alone - music written from DFoster and lyrics handwritten by Clay........*sigh* and signed by them and Eman. This is the ORIGINAL and only 3 other "copies" are out there....and belong to DF, JF, and CA....whoa. Final winning bid.....$55,000.00!

He was cute, he was funny, he was flirty....he was sexy - he was playful....he was a TEASE. Especially when someone in the front row said "Clay, I'll buy your ring" And then led to the not only the bidding of his thumb ring (he left the other 2 at home - forgot to put them on after his shower) but of all his jewelery that he had on......ring (with the other 2 included later) and necklaces....that he whipped out from under his white shirt. He then proceeded to put the ring in his mouth *excuse while i take a moment* and roll it around with his tongue seductively - and also rumor had it he LICKED the necklaces as still my heart. Final bidding ended around $8,000....again, money well spent. ~~LynninNJ at CB

-- The singing -- all of it -- was stunning. I must admit I was a bit shocked that he could sing so well after all that exuberant talking. Why, he talked just as much as the auctioneer! I loved it when he said that his name was on the foundation and he could decide what to do! Reminded me of "mah name's on the ticket." ~~sweetcarolinagirl at CV

The whole night was just so special. BAF did a wonderful job and the opening video of the children was so touching. What wonderful strides BAF is making! The video closed with ""Because You Loved Me"" and it truly brought tears to my eyes....I was so full of pride and for Clay, Diane, Kristy and all the volunteers for all they have done!! Clay later joked what a great singer that was who sang that closing song!

So cute when he was auctioning off the thingy for the NBC skating show...he said he had to sing 8 songs and that was a lot of work...maybe they should be paying him more!! ~~toni7babe at CV

Somebody from the front row .. said.. "SELL YOUR RINGS!!! or something to that effect..
Suddenly, he pulled off the ring.. and the necklace.. and BOOM..
The bidding started.. .. Suddenly, I was transported to a different space and time..
Clay was truly mesmerizing.. He had all of us spellbound.. He was adorable when
He puckered up his mouth begging for a higher bid.. over the Wango Tango shirt..
I guess when he put that ring in his mouth.. all bets were off.. YIKES..

Well, I made an executive decision.. I really wanted to make a donation to the Foundation and since I had been out bid on every other item.. I felt like these rings were calling my name..
So…the bidding started.. and the next thing I knew.. I was the winning bid.. I was on the stage with Clay .. a big ole hug and a kiss on the cheek was more than worth it.. He is so sweet and kind. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful role model in our lives. He has brought us all together because of his voice but we as a fandom are very special. We support the cause so near to Clay .. that of inclusion.. Let’s hold the feelings of the Gala and NAG in our hearts as we go into this year.. and never forget how proud we are of our boy. ~~clayladylei at CV

As for the Aiken- it warms my heart to see him genuinely happy. Makes me realize how much i think he was struggling before- and yet kept going. He is funny, articulate, a little naughty and had a smile that would light up the room. And when he sang- well the maturity and depth to his voice are beyond amazing. ~~jasr9203 at CV

Clay's fans know he is a special man--a man is bit different, a bit extraordinary.

The world is full of possibilities and potential. Picture clear, unlabeled bubbles of possibilities filling the sky. I think the average person recognizes, grabs and fulfills a number of possibilities, but I see Clay as one who does so much more. I almost believe he sees possibilities where the "average person" may not. I think he may see potential more clearly than most. I see him as one who strives to turn possibilities into accomplishments, potential into achievements. His desire to help--because there is the need for help--and to make a real difference in the world is admirable, yet it just seems to be an integral part of him. I am in awe, and will be so proud to see the many great things he will accomplish with his determination, his hard work, and a mind which at times may see a problem as just a solution waiting to happen, and a heart that is determined to make it happen.~~Brightstar at CV

I hope Clay continues to walk his path no matter what obstacles are thrown his way. I know I and many other will be there with him every step of the way.

~ Selling the Merchandise ~

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At 4:20 PM, Blogger Carolina Clay said...


Excellent recap of the Gala. The quotes by fan attendees really transports the rest of us all to the Raleigh festivities. Your photo feature is amazing.

Have an awesome weekend!



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