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Thursday, 30 May 2013 13:24

Make-A-Wish Fundraiser Honors Lost Classmates

By Staff Report | News

GUILDERLAND — A small number of graduates from Guilderland High School’s Class of 1978 met last year to begin planning a 35th reunion and, as they began talking, learned that a number of classmates—more than 15—had died.

They wanted to find a way to honor the memory of those classmates at the reunion, and soon came up with a plan. In honor of their lost classmates, they would hold an auction of items donated by class members and regional business owners at the reunion October 11–13 with proceeds going to Make-A-Wish Northeast New York. 

The planning committee found that among their classmates were many artists, entrepreneurs, and craftspeople. This helped to galvanize the idea for the auction, as it became clear that graduates who lived far from the Capital Region and might not be able to attend could still participate by donating their artwork or services. Auction chairperson Sylvia Aronson put to work her background in public relations and sales to begin to get pledges of donations—including big-ticket packages—from a number of local businesses. 

Plans for the auction include an online component—to take place over the month or so prior to the reunion—as well as an on-site silent auction at the reunion’s main event, to be held at Pinehaven Country Club on Saturday, October 12. The online auction is planned to be password-protected and open only to members of the Class of 1978 (and their friends and family) and the Make-A-Wish community.

Original works have been donated by at least 15 artist classmates to date. These include a large framed black-and-white photo by photographer Sylvia Aronson; an oil painting or watercolor by Sally Wahrlich McCarthy, who is a graphic designer and teaches graphic design at Stonehill College; and a work by Patricia Loonan, now an art teacher in Menands. The auction committee has also lined up several big-ticket and big-name items donated by local companies, including a Gore Mountain ski and dinner package, autographed CDs by James Taylor, and a tour of the Fabulous Beekman Boys’ Sharon Springs farm, with a meet-and-greet. 

“The reunion gives a chance to reconnect with people from the past, and the auction allows us an opportunity to honor the classmates who are no longer with us,” said Debra Lockrow, who plans to donate an item from her store, Artcentric Gallery in downtown Troy. Stephanie Takes-Desbiens, a blogger living in Maine says, “I’m planning to attend. And when the auction starts, I’ll be first in line online to bid.” 

That thrills Tim Riley, communications manager for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York. Riley notes that this is the first time the group has worked with a reunion. “It’s inspiring,” he says, “to hear about a group that wants to have fun together and support a good cause in honor of their fellow classmates.” 

To date the reunion committee has succeeded in locating more than 380 of the 470 graduates, and they are still hard at work at locating the others. Terri Knapp Ramos, who maintains the list of classmates who have been found, says, “Our goal is to find and invite every classmate.” 

If you or anyone you know graduated from Guilderland High School in 1978, please get in touch with the mailing list organizer, Terri Knapp Ramos, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (518) 383-5903. 

And for information about the auction, please contact Sylvia Aronson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (518) 812-8285.

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