Red Ball Express scam claim, says Rotary Club
April 24, 2003
The president of the Aspen Rotary Club said yesterday that a New York resident who called a local fund raiser “a scam” was satisfied when she told him the club had problems with its Web site this year.
Jack Varney wrote to Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar recently, asking for an investigation of the Red Ball Express. He became suspicious when the fund-raiser’s Web site didn’t tell him whether or not his ticket for the event was entered into the Rotary’s computer system.
Varney’s complaint was forwarded to the National Controller of the Currency, since the event is sponsored by Mesa National Bank.
Aspen Rotary Club President Janet Roberts said she called Varney and explained that the club did get all of the entries into their database before the race. The problem, she told him, was that the database was not connected to the Web site on time. She assured Varney that his ticket was entered into the race.
“He said he was fine with that, and he was glad to know what happened,” Roberts said, adding that Varney had no hard feelings. “I’m glad I learned about this, because it can help our event get better every year.”
The fund-raiser raised $38,800 for the Rotary Clubs and charities that sold tickets this year. Carbondale resident Suzanne Fisher won the $5,000 first place prize, Calvin Vaughner of Basalt won $1,500 for second, and Tom Durich of Scotts Valley, Ariz. got $500 for third.
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In the April 5 race, large red plastic balls were rolled down Buttermilk’s Government Run. Each person who bought a $5 ticket for the race was assigned two numbers that corresponded with two balls, and the first two balls to cross the finish line won.
Nonprofits and Rotarians that sold tickets for the race got to keep 100 percent of the proceeds. Besides Rotary Clubs in 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.
The Red Ball Express is modeled after the success of the annual summertime Ducky Derby, when thousands of yellow rubber ducks are sent floating down a stretch of the Roaring Fork River. The Ducky Derby also raises money for local youth charities.