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Saint John’s to host 9th annual charity Drawdown

Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church is gearing up for the 9th annual Drawdown fundraising event on Friday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

The Saint John’s Drawdown is a “reverse lottery” of sorts, where potential winners are narrowed down throughout the night. Raffle tickets are placed in a golden basket, and names are drawn periodically until there are five tickets left. Of those five, someone will win $10,000.

Since it began nine years ago, the event has earned around $40,000 annually, which is placed in the Clayton Stevens Trust. The church has managed the trust since 1979, and it provides support to several charities in the LOU community, including Interfaith Compassion Ministries, Love Packs, Doors of Hope and the Oxford Pregnancy Center.

According to Sparky Reardon, master of ceremonies and former dean of students at Ole Miss, past proceeds have had a tangible effect on those in need. The fundraiser is a thank-you note to the LOU community, one he said he hopes continues for years to come.

“When we built our new church (nine years ago), we did the Drawdown as a fundraiser. And everyone loved it; it was successful,” Reardon said. “It was just so embraced by the people of Oxford that we said, ‘Why not show our thanks to the Oxford community?’”

The event will feature catering from GRIT restaurant and an open bar. There will also be a selection of silent auction items, including luxury vacation packages, dining experiences and more. Memphis band The Dantones will provide entertainment for guests as well.

This year’s Drawdown will be a tribute to Italy, titled “La Dolce Vita.” Guests will play bocce ball, dine on Italian dishes, drink Italian wine and end their culinary tour with gelato and limoncello.

It’s no secret that the majority of people in the LOU community are generous, and Reardon said the Saint John’s Drawdown is no exception to the rule. The event goes beyond religious affiliation and denomination, reflecting the people it’s helping, and it’s something Reardon said he takes to heart.

“The Lord has blessed me in many ways. He blessed me by putting me at Ole Miss, and by putting me in Oxford,” he said. “It’s such a great feeling to have the opportunity to give back. I’d feel incomplete if I didn’t.”

Tickets for the Saint John’s Drawdown are $125, which includes dinner and an open bar for two, as well as one chance to win the $10,000 prize. For an additional $25, attendees can purchase “insurance” for their tickets, which provides the ticket holder with a second chance to win if their name is one of the first 100 drawn. Groups of 10 may purchase reserved seats for $1,250, which includes 5 insured tickets.

Tickets can be purchased at the door prior to the event. They may also be purchased by visiting the Saint John’s church office or contacting Reardon at sparky@olemiss.edu.