A 5-foot bronze bear sculpture called “The Griz” was the star of the show Saturday night, bringing in $36,500 in a charity auction, with most of the money going to two Kootenai County nonprofit organizations.
“I’m really choked up,” said Coeur d’Alene artist Terry Lee, placing a hand over his heart. Lee created the sculpture that sold for the highest price at the Fountains of Wishes fundraiser, which brought 19 fountains to Coeur d’Alene street corners during the summer and culminated in the auction benefiting 21 charities.
Dr. Paul Berger, founder of NightHawk Radiology, purchased the bronze grizzly bear sculpture, and 90 percent of the proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County and the Kootenai County Vandal Scholarship Fund. Lee said the gallery price for his grizzly bear sculptures is $55,000.
“It was a win-win for him and the charities,” Lee said of the buyer.
Throughout the summer, the fountains have entertained visitors and lured away their pocket change, which also was donated to the charities. The fountains were auctioned in a gala event at the private residence of Ron Nichols and Cheryl Shields on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The fountains, in total, brought in about $180,000.
“It’s overwhelmingly emo- tional because of all the huge hearts that are here,” said Heidi Person, executive director of CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers represent children in court in cases of abuse and neglect. “It’s emotional because it’s all for such a good cause.”
Person said the fountain fundraiser also brought publicity for charities such as hers, which attracted additional volunteers and donations.
“It has brought so much attention to the need in our community,” she said.
The community art project produced fountains in bronze, copper, granite, cement and ceramics.
One, named “The Eternal Vigil” by artist Terry Brinton, contains a piece of the World Trade Center destroyed five years ago Monday.
Donated by Zito Enterprises, it benefited the Coeur d’Alene Firefighters Local 1494.
Nonprofit organizations found sponsors to donate $6,000 for each fountain. That money was used to pay a stipend to the artist and for the administrative costs of the benefit.
“It’s a great feeling,” said artist Jason Sanchez upon seeing two of his copper and steel fountains raise thousands for charity. “It’s a reward in itself.”