At this year DSA’s Annual Meeting, the Gala Celebration on June 2, held some extra suspense for attendees as they vied for exotic getaways and exceptional products. In addition to the presentation of awards, the evening included an Experience of a Lifetime live auction benefiting DSEF.

“The excitement of DSEF’s auction was literally jaw-dropping as direct selling executives competed for great auction items and the opportunity to support our Foundation,” said DSA President Joe Mariano. “I’m hoping the auction will become a ‘signature’ event for DSA’s Annual Meeting.”

Serving as the event’s auctioneer, Craig Fleming, President, Global Direct Selling Division, ServiceQuest, kept the crowd energized as they bid on items donated by Amway, CUTCO, Mannatech, Nu Skin, USANA and WineShop At Home, raising more than $154,000 for DSEF.

Among the evening’s winning bidders were Truman Hunt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nu Skin Enterprises, and Orville Thompson, CEO of Scentsy Inc.  The two went head-to-head competing for the chance to attend an Orlando Magic game in the Founder’s Suite—as the guest of Amway’s Chief Sales Officer John Parker and President Doug DeVos. When the bidding topped $50,000, John, who also serves as DSEF Board Chair, agreed to offer the package twice, raising $100,000 for the Foundation in a matter of minutes.

“I was pleased to be able to participate in DSEF’s Gala auction and feel privileged to be a part of the great work that DSEF is doing to educate people about our business channel,” said Truman, who also was the winning bidder for a complete set of knives donated by CUTCO.

In addition to the Amway’s Orlando Magic package, Orville was the winning bidder for the Pirate’s Cove package donated by Nu Skin—a three-night stay for 30 people at a 22,000-square-foot, pirate-themed mansion in Boulder City, NV.

For Orville, whose winning bid for Pirate’s Cove was $20,000, the auction provided the chance to help the Foundation achieve its vision of a global marketplace that respects and appreciates direct selling.  “DSEF serves as the bridge between the direct selling industry and traditional centers of influence such as academia, government and many others,” he said. “Without its outreach and education, the extraordinary work of direct sellers to enhance the lives of millions through great product, inviting cultures and financial opportunities will not be sufficiently understood, represented and appreciated.”

Before the evening was over, attendees also had the chance to bid on a Hawaiian vacation. With a $7,000 bid, Jeannette Mills, Executive Vice President, Take Shape for Life, beat out her competitors and will spend a week on the beach in Maui, courtesy of Mannatech. Stan Fredrick, Mannatech’s Chairman of the Board and Chair of DSEF’s Development Committee, was overwhelmed by the generosity of Jeannette and other bidders. “This was the first auction we’ve held, and we look forward to making it a part of future Annual Meetings,” said Stan, whose $3,000 bid earned him a case of WineShop At Home’s Artisan 5. “Craig did an excellent job of making it exciting and fun for the audience.”

When the bidding kicked off for USANA’s Sky or Ski Excursion, Traci Lynn Burton, Founder and CEO of Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry, said her adrenaline took over. “‘Fearless’ is what I felt when I decided to bid on the skydiving adventure!” said Traci, who bid $5,000 to go skydiving with USANA’s CEO Dave Wentz. “I also have great respect for Dave and trust him to throw me out of a plane. I love the work of DSEF, and my company and I support the foundation. I believe it must be well-funded to continue its educational mission because we all benefit, we all win!”

The Experience of a Lifetime Auction helped DSEF exceed its goal for the 2014 fundraising year, which ends June 30.  “My personal thanks to all who participated in the DSEF Auction at the Gala,” John Parker said. “Thanks to your generosity—and in particular Truman Hunt and Orville Thompson—we raised more than $150,000! This money will help fund the great work done by our Foundation!”