Five years in, the La Porte County United Way Super Smoke Social has become smokier than ever. On Thursday night the United Way’s 5th Annual Super Smoke Social brought together a sold out crowd of people to attend a night of smoking cigars, drinking, eating, and bidding at Michigan City’s Blue Chip Casino.
The Super Smoke Social, now a half decade old, got its start when the people of Blue Chip got a hold of the idea of a Smoke Social, and then gathered up the La Porte County United Way to the benefactors.
“A group of guys got together for lunch here at Blue Chip around five years ago and we had been wanting to put on a cigar event for a while, so we decided to do it and give all of the proceeds to the United Way,” Jack Elia, Assistant General Manager at Blue Chip Casino, explained. “We’ve raised a lot of money since then through the people’s interest and the auctions that people go crazy over. This is one of my favorite events of the year and we couldn’t be gladder to be a part of it.”
From then on the United Way has been hosting the event at Blue Chip Casino to a more than receptive crowd. Dave Sisk, Manager of Community Engagement at the LPC United Way, said that the Smoke Social has been beneficial for the United Way.
“Over the past years we have received over $200,000 dollars of donations through this event alone. Tonight we’ll make it to $50,000 alone through bidding on our action items and through the tickets,” Sisk stated. “The funny thing is that this night just really works for us. It might be strange, but there are people out there who like to smoke cigars, so why not have them join us and raise money at the same time.”
Since United Way’s Super Smoke Social is the only one located in Northern Indiana, the attraction to the event was high. The tickets for Thursday night sold out five weeks in advance, and the crowd that attended was so big that next year’s Super Smoke Social might have to be moved into a larger room within the Casino’s vicinities. Some of the men and women who were in attendance were there for the first time, for others it’s was the third, fourth, or fifth year. Bert Cook, who has attended the Social since it’s very first year, said that the event is something that everyone - including him - looks forward to each year.
“It’s a nice dinner and a cool atmosphere, and I like to bring along a lot of people with to experience the night and to be able to support the United Way at the same time is a win-win,” Cook explained. “It’s such an excellent event, and it’s a really great night out. Blue Chip and the United Way really know how to take care of the people who come out and attend their events, so as long as they’re putting this on we are always there to support them.”
Besides the smoking, drinking, and eating their fabulous steak dinner, the people at the Smoke Social had the opportunity to bid on some luxurious items. There was a whole row of prizes and collectors items - which included sports memorabilia like a signed Patrick Kane jersey, a signed Jimmy Buffett plaque, baskets of fine wine, and many, many more items. Before dinner there was a game of heads or tails to win a box of cigars, and during dinner there was a live auction for a handful of incredible experiences like a trip to Ireland or VIP California Winery experience.
Besides all that the Smoke Social provided at the surface, the night was put on for one reason - to raise money for the United Way. With the money raised that night, the United Way will be able to continue their programs and services, which directly help the citizens of their own La Porte County. Kim Sauers, owner of Sauers Buick GMC and who sponsors the Super Smoke Social, said that the fundraising was the clear focal point of the event, even if it got shrouded in smoke.
“I really believe in their cause, and even if I don’t smoke and I’ll be paying for this later, it’s really a night to celebrate a worthwhile organization,” Sauers stated. “We’re glad to be a part of a night that raises so much money for the United Way.”
In all the Super Smoke Social was a night only for cigar aficionados, but for the community to come out and raise thousands of dollars for a vital organization. Next year the Super Smoke Social will get bigger and continue to raise $50,000 or more in a single night, but until then the 2015 Smoke Social was a milestone for everyone involved.
The La Porte County United Way would like to thank their sponsors for the night: Sauers, NIPSCO, Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa, Golden Leaf Cigars, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Republic National Distributing Company, Moët Hennessy, and Indiana Wholesale Wine & Liquor, Inc.