2015 Deacons of Deadwood Charity Ball
September 22, 2015
By Sam Allen
The party started at Rebel's Honky Tonk Saloon, where our guests gathered to participate in our "Dead Man's Parade." Eleven members of the Houston Police Department's Motorcycle Unit closed down portions of I-10, I-45, Loop 610 and Highway 288 to lead nearly 150 motorcycles to the Ball. I'm lucky that I get to be in the front row in the Parade every year. It's thrilling to see entire highways shut down for our ride and to find so many bikes in my rear view mirror that I can't see the back of the line. It took over 45 minutes for all of the bikes to park once we got there.
It took the Deacons many years and lots of work to build the Ball to its current levels of success. In our first year, we had a hard time finding a charity willing to take our money. We found that many organizations feared that being associated with a motorcycle would sully their reputations. So, we knew we had to project ourselves as more upscale than a stereotypical motorcycle club.
To meet that challenge, our philosophy was to concentrate on the quality of our party rather than maximizing the dollars we would raise. We targeted an upscale crowd. So, the attire was "Biker Formal," which was sort of a leather and lace thing with a biker theme. We wanted to have great entertainment, first rate food and an open bar with top-shelf liquor. We decided to have a silent auction, but we avoided a live auction on the belief that it would be a drag on the energy at the party.
The first Deacons Ball was held on October 2, 2002. We had a local band and only 218 guests. Nonetheless, we raised $22,500 for Make-a-Wish. The next year, we had the same local band and raised $55,000 for Make-a-Wish. Over the next several years the size of the Ball increased to over 400 guests and the amount of money raised grew to an average of $90,000 a year. We started making donations to a variety of charities benefiting children in the Houston area.
In 2011 we decided to step things up. We hired Foghat as our entertainment. It was the first time we had a nationally known band. It was a risky decision because we increased our expenses substantially with no assurance we would be able to increase our revenue. The gamble paid off. We had nearly 600 guests and raised about $180,000 net to the charities to which we made donations. From there, our Ball has rocketed.
In 2012 we had Blue Oyster Cult. There were close to 800 guests and we raised over $200,000 for the first time. In 2013 Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top headlined our Ball. We raised over $250,000. In 2014 Brett Michaels came for the first time. We had over 1,200 guests and we raised $375,000.
The 2015 Ball was a blow-out. The Dead Man's Parade was the largest ever. Tom Keifer still has "it" and rocked out hard. Then Bret Michaels headlined for the second time and he wowed the crowd with his high-energy show. The final numbers are not in but we know we raised a lot of money that will help a lot of children.
We already have begun planning for the 15th Deacons of Deadwood Charity Ball. We have some new twists in mind for our 15th Ball. Stay tuned!