A popular, long-running event ended Saturday in the News 13 Studios. WMBB-TV hosted the 25th, and final Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) TV Auction.
“It’s been a boom to PCMI. It really was our main fundraiser when we started it,” PCMI Board Member Norm Gulkis said.
The Panama City Jaycees brought the idea of TV charity auction to WMBB management in the late 1970’s. Local businesses donated items to be auctioned off on TV.
The Jaycees used the money to run other projects and usually donated half, sometimes all, of the proceeds to a local charity, like the United Way.
When the Jaycees dropped the project in 1993, the Marine Institute asked WMBB to continue the auction.
The money raised over the last 25 years has gone to help the hundreds of young people who’ve passed through the PCMI Program.
“You hear all the time that if you can help one kid, everything that you do to help that kid is worth it. We’ve done that many times over, many many times over,” Former Executive Director Rusty Russell said.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve handled 6,000 kids since I’ve been there,” Gulkis said.
It’s also been an honor for the WMBB employees who’ve participated in the auction over the years.
“It’s something we want to do, not only because it’s fun, but because we know it has so much meaning raising this money for a program that absolutely helps a lot of young people in Bay County,” Amy Hoyt said.
“It was not just an opportunity to raise funds. It was an opportunity to raise friends,” Russell said.
The final auction raised more than $23,000.