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United Way’s annual autograph auction set for Friday

From famous musicians to movie stars and athletes and everything in between, it won’t be hard to find a must-have autographed item at the United Way of Jasper County’s Autograph Memorabilia and Experience Auction Friday night.

A guitar signed by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, a scorecard signed by Zach Johnson, a bat signed by Casey Blake and a helmet signed by Nick Easley and his Hawkeye teammates are just a few of the items that will be up for grabs at 6 p.m. at the Newton Elks Lodge.

“The event is one of my favorites I have ever been a part of,” said Jessica Lowe, United Way of Jasper County executive director. “It is just a fun, social event that happens to raise money for a really good cause.”

While the event happens only once a year, Lowe collects items for the auction year round. She said she loves the “hunt” for great items but does not give away the secrets of how she gets each piece.

“A lot of people ask me ‘How did you get that?’ and ‘How did you get this?’ and I politely tell them I don’t divulge my secrets,” she said. “I’ve collected autographs since I was a child so I have taken many years of a hobby and turned it into a fundraiser for Jasper County nonprofits.”

Items headed to the auction block include a variety of photos signed by actors, musicians, politicians, historical figures and even a few Muppets. Also available are signed baseballs from Nolan Ryan and Billy Williams, a jersey signed by Brett Favre, a drum head signed by Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, a poster signed by Julie Adams star of “Creature From The Black Lagoon” and a script signed by Bob Newhart.

Lowe said she has picked out a few favorites and enjoys the excitement of seeing what comes in each week as the auction approaches.

“I love some of the rock’ n’ roll memorabilia we have this year. We have a drum head signed by Jerry Allison of Buddy Holly & The Crickets. To me that is amazing bit of history,” she said. “I definitely have items that I would love to own and sometimes it is hard letting them go, but for me the real fun is getting the items in and collecting them throughout the year.”

Items available will be auctioned off during a silent auction, while about two dozen larger pieces will be part of a live auction with help of local auctioneer Perry Pendroy of Monroe.

“The auction is successful in large part thanks to Perry using his talents to help move along the bidding process,” Lowe said. “He is wonderful to work with and his auctioning skills help out tremendously.”

The event has grown since its inception and had nearly 250 people attend in 2016. Bryan and Robyn Friedman, of Newton, were among those attending and have been in attendance each year since the auction began.

“We love the autograph auction because it is one of the most unique fundraisers we attend and it is a very fun way to support the United Way,” said Robyn Friedman. “Jessica Lowe does a fantastic job of acquiring new and different autographs and experiences every year and we appreciate her passion about and dedication to this event. Plus, we love to acquire interesting new decor for our home every year.”

The auction will begin at 7 p.m. but people are welcome to come when doors open to check out the items up for auction. Admission is free and free appetizers also will be served. Lowe said she hopes people will come for a fun night out.

“I really look forward to the event every year and it is great to see people so excited about the memorabilia and experiences they are buying in support of United Way,” Lowe said. “It is just a unique event for Central Iowa and I’m very proud of how successful it has been in raising much-needed funds to help people.”

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