By Mary Fox

Skiers and non-skiers alike are invited to join the Ken Brown 700 Club Fundraising Party at Holiday Valley’s Yodeler Shelter on Saturday, March 1.

The 700 Club was renamed last year to the Ken Brown 700 Club to honor its founder Ken Brown, who was always looking for ways to get people together and enjoy a good time. In 2000, Ken found 10 skiers, including him, who turned 70 that year— hence, the 700 Club. Each skier put in $50 to sponsor a party to raise funds for local charitable organizations. To date, over $40,000 has been raised and donated by the club to over a dozen causes.

To the original 10, over 40 new members have been added and membership is expected to reach well over 50 this year.

“Skiers 70 or over are welcome to join the Ken Brown 700 Club for a $50 donation. Anyone wishing to donate to the club, but does not qualify for membership due to age (70 or over), may become an associate member for $25 or more,” said Dave Jones, a steering committee member.

Checks can be mailed to Dave Jones, Box 701, Ellicottville, NY 14731. The Sunshine Boys, a group of skiers Ken organized prior to the 700 Club, are also helping to sponsor the event.

A $7 donation is asked from anyone wishing to take advantage of the large buffet prepared by The Depot (Vicky and Moose Brown, Ken’s son and daughter-in-law).

“Of course your favorite appetizer or dessert is always a welcome addition to the menu,” said Dave.

Each year, there is a 50-50 draw as well as a live auction held around 2 p.m. with auctioneer Bob McCarthy. Quality items to be auctioned include bottles of wine, ski clothing, ski passes, gift certificates, local art, gift baskets and much more. These items are all donated by the generous community, individuals, retail businesses, restaurants, local artists, and woodcrafters, to name a few.

“Donations for the auction are welcome from anyone who wishes to support the event this way,” said Ollie Hazard.

Call steering committee members, Les Fox at (716) 945-1176 or Ollie Hazard at (716) 699-4091 for pickup information.

Myriads of memories of Ken are fondly shared over and over again at the Ken Brown 700 Club fundraiser, reunions where members strive to emulate Ken’s generosity.

“Ken Brown loved people and always did what he could to help out others less fortunate, from literally giving his jacket to someone on the street, to staging events for the enjoyment of his friends,” said Ollie Hazard.

For some organizations, fundraisers are the principal way the Ken Brown 700 Club acquires funds to carry on their mission. While fundraisers abound in Ellicottville, they are always a fun way to support local groups such as the food pantry, the Alley Katz, Ellicottville Family Charities, Project Christmas, Almost Home Animal Sanctuary, the Ellicottville-Great Valley Trail, local individuals’ medical expenses and so many more worthy causes.

“The club’s only purpose is summed up in its motto: ‘Help Us Help Others,’” said Don Ames, member of the steering committee. “The festivities start at noon, with food and beverages, greetings and chats with old friends and new, and all are invited to come and join in the fun.”