Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hoedown for Hukari topnotch

Benefit to aid injured skier proclaims community's compassion

Express Staff Writer

Chris O'Donnell and Jennifer Tyrer consider where to place their raffle tickets. Photo by Willy Cook

Though there wasn't a bail of hay or cow in sight, the Hoedown for Hukari brought out the cowboy in everyone Saturday night at the Limelight Room in Sun Valley. Friends, family and colleagues at Smith Optics turned out in record numbers to support Teresa Hukari, a Ketchum resident and victim of a severe skiing accident.

Still being cared for at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Hukari sent a videotaped message from her hospital bed to the gathering that was shown on several large screens. As she spoke of her fabulous ski season prior to the accident on Bald Mountain on March 4, her appreciation of the love and support she's received and her attempts to come to terms with the mystery of her future, there was quite literally not a dry eye in the crowded ballroom.

Between a wide-ranging silent auction, raffles and the live auction, approximately $300,000 was raised to help fund Hukari's long-term physical rehabilitation.

Auctioneer Larry Flynn, who worked gratis, kept members of the crowd on their toes.

"I began in this business a long time ago for people who didn't even have health insurance here. I'm doing it for old times sake."

In keeping with that sentiment Brain Barsotti, Michel Rudigoz and others generously endowed a new nonprofit foundation for valley residents who have a catastrophic accident and need help.

Rounding out the night was a packed dance floor and an attempt by many to master the art of contra dancing. At least the auction was a success.

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