Fender Helps Raise $65G For Big Brothers Big Sisters

Fender Helps Raise $65G For Big Brothers Big Sisters

Feb. 26 auction of 24 decorated Stratocaster® guitars to benefit Arizona kids


 Fender’s Ritchie Fliegler and the "Audrey Faerie"


Photo by Clay Lyons

Fender was very pleased to help Arizona public art project GuitarMania 2 raise more than $65,000 at a Feb. 26 auction of two dozen artfully decorated Stratocaster guitars.

As with previous GuitarMania® events in the Phoenix area, all proceeds from the event benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, a well-known youth mentoring service that provides Valley kids with positive and highly valuable one-on-one relationships. Fender has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2005 to champion the cause right in the Phoenix/Scottsdale backyard of both organizations.

“We are so grateful to all of our partners, artists and supporters who made GuitarMania 2 a great success,” said Brian Hassett, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona president. “It is a pleasure to work with a community that understands the impact mentors can have on the lives of children. And for Big Brothers Big Sisters to have the support of a company like Fender—it just means so much.”

GuitarMania® made headlines in Arizona in 2005 and 2006 as the state’s largest-ever public art project, raising more than $1 million from the Valley-wide display and subsequent auctioning of dozens of colorfully decorated 10-foot fiberglass Stratocaster models. In the project’s second round, GuitarMania 2 presented local and national artists with 24 regular-size Stratocaster guitars to use as vehicles for artful expression.

Onlookers examine guitars during the silent auction.

Photo by Clay Lyons

From Nov. 20 to Dec. 8, 2006, 20 of the expertly rendered guitars went on public display at the Dillard’s department store location at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

At the raucous Feb. 26 auction at Casino Arizona (a co-sponsor of the event), an Arizona Diamondbacks-themed Stratocaster called “Fair Warning” by artist Jerry Crow fetched a hefty $10,100; a team-autographed Phoenix Suns Strat® scored $7,600.

“It’s a great event, especially for those of us who are guitar lovers and art lovers,” said auction presenter and Phoenix District-Five Councilman Claude Mattox. “Even though a Fender guitar is a piece of art in and of itself, adding the touch of an artist to it makes it that much more valuable. It certainly is a perfect way to combine those two mediums.”

“The great thing about this is that it ultimately benefits the kids of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, and that’s what it’s all about tonight,” Mattox added. “We’re here to help raise a lot of money to keep Big Brothers Big Sisters in business. And we’re really happy to do that.”


 GuitarMania® 2 Stratocaster guitars on display.

Photo by Clay Lyons

A dozen of the guitars went on the block for a silent auction early in the evening; ten more then went at a showroom auction, followed by an hour-long performance by local heroes the Gin Blossoms.

Fender Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Ritchie Fliegler, also an auction presenter, noted that the partnership between Fender and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona had become an especially successful and gratifying one.

“Here’s the thing—Big Brothers Big Sisters is a grassroots effort; a one-to-one mentoring program that is very close-up, and that’s really what we love about it,” Fliegler said at the event. “Also, a very high percentage of the money raised—one of the highest percentages in the country, according to Forbes magazine—actually goes to the charity itself. It has very, very low administrative costs.”

“It’s just one-on-one with kids,” Fliegler added. “When the opportunity came along, we were looking for a partner to do GuitarMania®. And we had mutual friends, so we went to Big Brothers Big Sisters and we didn’t even finish the presentation before they said, ‘Yeah—let’s go!’”

GuitarMania originated in Cleveland in 2002, where it raised more than $1 million. To date, Phoenix is the only other city to present the program.

Visit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona online at www.bbbsaz.org.


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