New York man wants probe of fund-raiser |

New York man wants probe of fund-raiser

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

One man’s suspicion that the Aspen Rotary Club’s Red Ball Express fund-raiser is a scam is prompting the club to look into software problems.

Earlier this month, Jack Varney of Syracuse, N.Y., wrote Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar a letter asking for an investigation of the Red Ball Express. Varney said he bought a ticket for the fund-raiser during a visit to Aspen this winter, but was never able to determine if the numbers he purchased were entered into the contest via the fund-raiser’s Web site.

“I knew it was a kind of drawing, but I never did find out what my number was,” Varney said. “The whole thing hit me as a scam. It may not be, but I was just annoyed by the fact that I followed the instructions to find out my number, and each time the computer said my number wasn’t entered.”

When a $5 ticket is purchased for the Red Ball Express, Rotarians assign each ticket two numbers that correspond with two large, red plastic balls. At this year’s Red Ball Express on April 5, over 200 red balls were then rolled down the Government Run on Buttermilk Mountain.

The first two balls to cross the finish line were awarded $5,000. Second prize was $1,500 and third prize was $500.

A Web site address is given on each ticket so entrants can learn what combination of balls they were assigned. But according to Varney, he never learned whether or not he was entered into the race.

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Ken Lane at the office of the Colorado attorney general said since the event was sponsored by Mesa National Bank, Varney’s complaint was forwarded to the Houston office of the National Controller of the Currency. He said he couldn’t predict how the controller of the currency would pursue the complaint.

Janet Roberts, president of the Aspen Rotary Club, said the club will check their software to determine what the problem was when Varney tried to enter his receipt number.

“Whenever someone has a concern like that we want to check it out,” Roberts said. “It might have been a problem with our software that is causing him some distress, and we will see what we can do to resolve the issues.”

Nonprofits and Rotarians that sell tickets for the race get to keep 100 percent of the proceeds. Besides Rotary Clubs from the valley, local nonprofits that participated this year included Junior Hockey, the Aspen Youth Center, Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, and Little Feet Day Care Center, among others.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is