Putting the Fun in Fundraising
Known for his contagious enthusiasm, Steve Lewandowksi, the “voice of the San Diego Polo Club,” is celebrating his 25th year of auctioneering. The acclaimed polo announcer, who has called over 1,000 matches at more than 20 clubs across the United States, Mexico, and Europe (he is also the home announcer for Club Polo Cabo in Cabo San Lucas), has worked over 1,500 events in 40 states, having started with the Anthony Robbins organization more than two decades ago.
It all began in 1988 when he was asked by friend Donn Bleau to serve as emcee and auctioneer for a
Make-A-Wish Foundation benefit. Since then, Lewandowski has worked with well over 100 local, regional, and national nonprofits including Boys & Girls Clubs, Nice Guys Of San Diego, Kids Included Together, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the American Heart Association, Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, Holes For Heroes, Helen Woodward Animal Center, Tee It Up For The Troops, Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation, and the list goes on. “My sweet spot is definitely for our military and our veterans and first responders — the people who put their lives on the line for us,” says Lewandowski.
Of all the many causes he’s supported through the years, one that particularly moved Lewandowski was a Christmas Party for severely wounded Army personnel who could not get home for the holidays. The group showered the soldiers with food, songs, and presents. And when the event ended, a soldier who was a double amputee approached the podium where Lewandowski was collecting his things. “His walking was a little shaky because he had only recently received his prosthetic legs,” he shares. “He stood before me and said, ‘Permission to hug you, sir.’ I wasn’t really expecting this, but of course I said yes. We hugged, and he said, ‘Thank you for the best Christmas I can remember,’ and he gave me a real hug. And then I could feel him sobbing — I could only imagine the hell that he had been through. So I started crying as well, it came out of nowhere, I hadn’t cried since I was a baby. That was a ‘heckofa’ moment that I’ll never forget.”
As for what’s on the horizon, Lewandowski would like to work with the USO. “They are a mature nonprofit that does a lot of good — I remember directly benefitting from their wonderful work when I was in the service, from going to the USO lounge at various airports to the shows that they sponsored when we were overseas.”
Lewandowski is also quick to point out that we have too many vets coming back who are experiencing an impaired quality of life from PTSD. “I am looking at providing value to a very competent and effective nonprofit, Veterans Medical Research Corporation, that is researching ways to alleviate this problem,” he says. “We can never thank these genuine heroes enough for what they volunteered to do for us. We need to take care of them when they come home.” (858.699.5545, www.stevespeakstoyou.wordpress.com) MIA S. PARK