Members Make Holiday Gala a Huge Success; Create Surprises and Raise Thousands for Jo Brighton Special Olympics

Story by John Keilly
Photos by Miranda Christen, Catherine & John Keilly

This year, we were able to hold the annual Holiday Party at the beautiful Orchard Lake Country Club. The possibility was offered to us about a year ago, by Erhard and Gretchen Dahm.

It was my good fortune to meet the Dahms in 2008, when I did an article on them for our Club’s 50th Anniversary Program. The Dahms had the first Porsche franchise in southeast Michigan.

The Orchard Lake Country Club was magnificently decorated for the holidays. It also provided plenty of room to display all the items in the Silent Auction, and for the 95 guests who attended – the best turn out in years!

The Dahms introduced us to Catering Director Laura Donofrio, and she – and First Lady Catherine Keilly did the rest. They worked together to ensure that we had another first rate event. Numerous members commented favorably on both the food and the service.

This year, we invited representatives from the Jo Brighton Program for Special Olympics Athletes to be our guests. Shortly after the untimely death of 16 year old Miles Smith at Parade in Traverse City, SEM/ PCA adopted Jo Brighton as our charity. Miles was active in the program, which is based right here in southeast Michigan. Those guests were Maggie Gibson, Special Olympics Coordinator and her husband Cliff, as well as parents of two Special Olympians, Mrs. Virginia Bartnikowski and Mrs. Anna Norris. Mrs. Gibson gave us a brief run down on the Jo Brighton Program and how much our support has meant to them, including the new uniforms bought with our past donations.

Of course, Erhard and Gretchen Dahm were there with us, along with their daughter and son-in-law, “C.C.” and Brett Homovec.

In additional to all the usual enjoyment of catching up with fellow enthusiasts, the evening included two major surprises. First, Board Member Gretus Hoogestraat got down on one knee and proposed to Goodie Store Chair Victoria Wade. Yes, she accepted.

Then, Mr. & Mrs. Dahm said they wanted to show their appreciation to the Club for the support of our founding members. That group wrote a letter to Porsche supporting the Dahm’s application for a franchise, which was their first dealership, opened in May, 1963. Today you know them for the World of Erhard BMW and Land Rover dealerships.

In a display of incredible generosity, the Dahms said they would sponsor our dinner! At the suggestion of Treasurer and Past President Leo Wanstreet, we of course offered to refund anyone’s money – adding that any money not refunded would be added to our donation to Jo Brighton. In an impressive demonstration of “It’s not just the cars; it’s the people” no one requested a refund!

Meanwhile, Patti and Jerry Door ran another record setting Silent Auction. Porsche dealers as well as many other businesses and individuals generously donated items to the Auction. Buyers were active, and, as always, generous. In total, over $ 2,700 was raised.

Last but not least, the Holiday Party is also a time of recognition and transition. Howard Gilson was formally introduced as our new president and Mark Molzon was named Vice President. Mark also took home the well deserved Enthusiast of the Year Award.
We always donate 100% of the proceeds from the auction. This combined with the significant donation made possible by the outstanding generosity of Erhard and Gretchen Dahm and our members will enable us to make a very major contribution to the Jo Brighton Program – which receives no funding from the state.

Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Dahm. Thank you members. Thank you donors and buyers at the Silent Auction. Thank you Laura and Catherine. Congratulations to Gretus and Victoria, Howard Gilson and Marc Molzon. You made it a truly memorable evening!


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