This year’s edition of The National NRA Foundation Banquet to raise money for shooting sports training and facilities was far from the typical fundraising dinner/auction. For starters, it filled Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, as a crowd of well over 1,000 jammed the venue, coming together to celebrate NRA’s strength and steadfast dedication to protecting firearms freedom.
NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre greeted the huge, friendly crowd with an affirmation. “We Americans have a way of life, no other people or nation has been able to duplicate. That’s because no one else has the freedom we have, because no one else has our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
The assembly met NRA Volunteers of the Years from across the nation; heard from NRA Board member Gen. Leroy Sisco about a pet program to provide new houses for deserving military veterans, including three new homes in Indiana; and heard from Henry Rifles president Anthony Imperato about firm’s donation of $100,000 to Indy’s Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Respective CEOs Mike Fuljenz (Universal Coin & Bullion), CEOs Ralph Karanian (Kimber)-and title sponsors of the banquet along with Cabela’s-spoke of another aspect of NRA’s reach. Both companies are top advertisers with NRA Publications media properties, and are proud of that connection, because, as Karanian concluded: “Nothing moves the sales needle like exposure in the NRA magazines.”
The festivities heated up after dinner, when, in addition to raffles and games, a live auction intrigued the crowd with a near-unbelievable merchandise list. You want guns? How about bidding on: a Weatherby Chris Kyle Limited Edition rifle; an NRA-marked B.A.R. M1918A3 from Ohio Ordnance; a Daniel Defense V5; the 10 millionth Mossberg Model 500 shotgun; a Remington UMC 1911 commemorative; Colt 1911 Gov’t Model and Mustang matched set embellished with Friends of NRA markings; or a Sako Golden Anniversary rifle; and many more?
Celebrity-themed items we much in evidence with guitars signed by Ted Nugent and Charlie Daniels, along with a WWII Colt 1922 once owned by flying ace, statesman and former NRA president Gen. Joe Foss. Rounding out the mementos was an impressive collection of photos, signed letters and memorabilia from the Reagan presidency, artfully framed into an incredible keepsake collection.
Great hunts were up for grabs, ranging from Africa to Alaska to New Zealand to several closer to home, including the latest craze, a Texas helicopter hunt for feral hogs, with the high bidder also receiving an FNH FN15 rifle. The auction’s most dynamic item was a Custom Diamondback fishing boat built especially with gun enthusiasts in mind and the bidding climbed well into the five figures for that one.
By evening’s end many times that amount was brought in thanks to lively bidding and folks dedicated to the cause. Monies raised by The NRA Foundation go to teach shooting sports, to train shooters and hunters, and to build or upgrade shooting facilities and the bulk of these funds are apportioned through a grant program that ensures the benefits are felt in communities across America.