By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily
A Cheyenne tradition of fundraising reached a milestone of giving Thursday.
“Thankful Thursday” topped the $2 million mark in donations over the course of its decade of fundraising.
In the spring and fall seasons, several hundred people will gather each Thursday at AmVets Post 10 in Cheyenne for Thankful Thursday, described as a “Party with a Purpose.” Each week, the party raises money for a different Cheyenne charity.
Using games, raffles and food, charitable organizations can raise thousands of dollars in a single night. There are even free money draws throughout the night, and folks can win thousands of dollars just for showing up.
However, the highlight of the evening is the live auction. Charities gather donated items from individuals and local businesses that are auctioned off at the end of the evening.
The auctioneer and master of ceremonies for the evening’s festivities is Bryan “Alf” Grzegorczyk. You’ll know Alf when you see him, because he’ll be wearing one of the many wild and colorful suits that have become his signature.
As owner of Cheyenne’s Alf’s Pub, Grzegorczyk is quickly becoming a legend in Cheyenne for his fundraising. Recently, Grzegorczyk received not just one, but two awards for his efforts. Compassionate Cheyenne awarded him its “Compassion in Action” award, followed quickly by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s 2019 “Community Spirit Award.”
This most recent Thankful Thursday was a benefit for Wyoming 2-1-1, a group whose mission is to bring people together with available services, resources, and support organizations in Wyoming.
As things were set to begin Thursday, the total raised so far for various charities was standing at just shy of the mark everyone came to see.
The success of Thankful Thursday rests in the people of Cheyenne, Alf said.
“The community itself, the people, the businesses in town are so giving here in Cheyenne,” he said. “I have a great volunteer staff that comes out week after week to help me. There have been close to 50 charities helped and I have 40 charities on the waiting list to get on.”
One of the sponsors, and one who has generously given thousands of dollars, is Corey “Lynn” Loghry, who owns the business Lynn Buys Houses.
“It was something Alf would say ‘Separately we can’t do much but together we can do a lot.’ that was the reason I came onboard as a sponsor,” Loghry said. “When you come together with other small businesses, amazing things can happen.”
Also in attendance was Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr.
“It has taken our entire community to come out during every Thankful Thursday, and to come to this point where we have reached $2 million, for very worthy causes, because guess what, government can’t do it all,” she said. “I have met mayors from all over the country and all over the world, and they ask what’s special about Cheyenne, and it comes down to it is such a generous community. We have the best community! If there’s a need, everybody steps up.”
At Thursday’s gathering, a running tally was kept so everyone would know the moment the $2 million mark reached. When would it happen though?
With bidding on auction items coming in faster than Alf could keep track, the crew working in the back got his attention and stopped him. When he returned to the stage, the announcement was made, to thunderous applause, that Thankful Thursdays’ total collections had indeed topped $2 million.
As Alf changed the tote board, Mayor Orr was invited on stage.
“First of all, let’s give Alf a big shout out,” she said, prompting whoops and cheers from the audience. “Hats off to all of you, because the $2 million come from all of you, every Thursday night. I know these organizations’ budgets, and I know how much $10,000 means to an organization.”
After thanking Mayor Orr, Alf turned right back to the auction and starting doing what he does best, raising money for a very “thankful” Cheyenne.