Swine & Wine – Making Wishes Come True

Swine & Wine fundraiser for the Make A Wish Foundation [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]

Approximately every 38 minutes, the Make A Wish Foundation grants a wish to a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.  Last night, over three hundred local supporters of the program attended the “Swine & Wine” event, at the Eureka Elks Lodge. And, last night, the Chief of the Fortuna Police Department, Bill Dobberstein may have saved a life at the event.

The fundraiser, which was hosted by local law enforcement agencies and sponsored by Robin Bailie with Coldwell Banker Sellers Realty, Tri Counties Bank, and the Elks Lodge, treated diners to a meal of fine wine and delicious pulled pork.  The special waitstaff for the night were representatives from local law enforcement agencies and Humboldt Bay Fire, including a variety of chiefs, officers, law enforcement staff and volunteers.

Humboldt Bay Fire Chief Bill Gillespie serves hungry diners. [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]

Captain Brian Stephens (EPD) and Chief Donn Peterson (HSUPD) help to fulfill dinner orders in the kitchen. [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]

Later in the evening, diners were able to participate in a silent auction as well as a live auction, conducted by special auctioneer, First District Supervisor Rex Bohn.  Also on hand was Maddie, a sweet pet pig who visited with her owner, Nature Joe.  Maddie stood by for photos, belly scratches, and baby carrot treats.

Meet Maddie! The Swine & Wine Hostess. [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]

Maddie enjoys a good scratch from Adeline Esh, whose sister, Eleanor, was the recipient of a “wish” earlier this year. Eleanor was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4, and is currently in remission. [Photo Credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]

Three special families spoke and described their experience with the program.  Many laughs and emotional moments were shared by the speakers and the audience.

A special slide show presentation accompanied one of the Make A Wish families, showcasing their wish. [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen]

According to a member of the organizing committee, Deni McFarland, in 2016, the local Make A Wish chapter received 12 referrals and this year alone, have 5 in the approval and granting process.  She estimated the average wish costs $7,500, after donations from the Make A Wish partners like Disney, Airlines, restaurants, etc. McFarland said this is the first Make A Wish fundraiser Humboldt County has had in close to 10 years.
The local program is also part of the Greater Bay Area Make A Wish group out of San Francisco, so local kids do not go without wishes.  McFarland added, “It truly is an amazing program that gives families something to look forward to and a time to give them a break from the day to day fight they are living.”
While they they don’t yet have a final count for the fundraiser, McFarland believes it’s close to $40,000.  McFarland explained, “It was an amazing event with the law enforcement community driving and supporting Make a Wish.  Local kids in Humboldt and Del Norte County will benefit from this event.”
The event organizers encourage anyone wanted to support the program to visit their donation page.  All proceeds will benefit local Make A Wish families.
And, last night, the Chief of the Fortuna Police Department, Bill Dobberstein may have saved a life at the event.  EPD Chief Andrew Mills reported in a Facebook posting on 2-5-17, that Fortuna Police Department Chief Bill Dobberstein, saved a woman from choking.  Chief Dobberstein recognized the woman was in distress and was able to apply a lifesaving action.  It goes to show, heroes never truly take off their capes or apron, in this case.

Fortuna Police Department Lt. Matt Eberhardt and Chief Bill Dobberstein. [Photo credit: Sandi Petersen Photography]



  • Nice article, informative and upbeat. Love your site, Kym.

  • A good time was had by all. Donations now exceed $45K. We might need to have this on an annual basis since it has been such an overwhelming success. Robin Bailie was unable to attend due to illness and as you can imagine she was greatly disappointed by not being able to attend the dinner. She was however, in partenership with a good friend a successful bidder on the 250lbs. pig donated by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept. As usual Rex Bohn was masterful in his auctioneering abilities helping to raise additional moneies for the event. The Elk’s Lodge # 652 did an excellent job as host to the event. All of the law enforcement and fire department volunteer’s could not have worked harder to produce a wonderful meal and provide great table service. Robin and I look forward to the next Make A Wish Foundation dinner and auction.

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