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Huli Huli Luau - Grassroots Group Takes On Football Fundraiser

POSTED July 12, 2011 11:12 p.m.
A grassroots movement by a motivated group of Mustang football parents has spawned a new fundraiser.
Scheduled for Saturday, July 30 at the Oakdale Rodeo Grounds from 6 p.m. to midnight, coordinators hope the event will serve as a kick-off event to the football season. This fundraiser will be in lieu of the $20 discount cards that Oakdale High School football players were required to sell as a mandatory fundraiser for the football program.
The brainchild of Shelayne Higgs and Jaime Jimenez, the Huli Huli Hawaiian Mustang Luau sprang to life when Higgs mentioned to OHS head coach Trent Merzon that selling the discount cards was a pain.
“The cards were really hard to sell. Most people bought them to be supportive but I thought, let’s do something different this year, something fun,” Higgs said.
Higgs, a member of the Rummy Girls, the group responsible for the popular fundraising Halloween event held in October, knew with the right people behind the scenes, that a successful — and entertaining — fundraiser could be done. And seeing as she already had a blueprint for success due to the trailblazing efforts of the Rummy Girls, Higgs went straight to Merzon and presented her idea.
Although the impetus has always been on the players to sell the cards — Merzon is a big proponent of hard work and sacrifice to earn reward — he recognized that the parents usually took up the lion’s share of the work.
“You know, the fundraising stuff changes every year,” Merzon said. “I get contacted frequently for fundraising ideas by different companies. We’ve been doing the cards for about three years now and the cards are a lot of work on my end. So, I was all for something that I didn’t have to handle.”
Given the greenlight, Higgs and Jimenez wasted no time in assembling a committee of key people with proven track records of reliability and usefulness.
After a brainstorming session, they hit upon an idea that seemed doable and fun for the adults with a target fundraising amount of $10,000. Word of mouth is spreading quickly and the tickets are limited to 400 people so people are urged to purchase their tickets now as they won’t be sold at the door.
With Jimenez’ strong connection to Hawaii, they decided upon a luau-themed dinner featuring teriyaki chicken, steamed rice and green beans with all the grilling on their shoulders. It was a basic menu but something they knew they could do well and if there’s one thing people want when they attend a fundraiser dinner, it’s good food and lots of it.
“This is something fun that represents summer where parents can let their hair down,” Jimenez said.
They also wanted a simple menu so that when the food is cleared, the party can really start.
Popular local band Remedy will get the bodies moving with their signature sound and there will be a no-host bar provided by H-B Saloon, which means no one under 21 is allowed. Wristbands will be given with the ticket purchase and if you lose your wristband, you’ll have to buy another. No exceptions, Higgs said.
So why all this effort for a football fundraiser?
If you have to ask, just take a look at The Corral.
Oakdale, by evidence of the completely donated million-dollar football field, loves their football program.
“I want our kids to have every single tool they can have,” Merzon said. “Equipment is very important. Our No. 1 priority is safety equipment. We have top-of-the-line helmets. Each helmet costs $300. We bought 30. Our goal is to have our entire program in Revolution helmets. Why? Because last year we only had one concussion. That’s huge. Unfortunately, having the best equipment costs money.”
Jimenez, a sports equipment businessman, echoed the importance of quality equipment for the kids, giving kudos to Oakdale High for going that extra mile.
“It’s like a Division One high school,” Jimenez said. “We are blessed in this town but we ask a lot of them.”
Merzon agreed, saying, “We don’t need things. We want things. And we’re very blessed.”
Jimenez added, “We’re going for above and beyond. Oakdale is like a little Texas football town in California. We’re constantly getting compliments on our facilities.”
And that’s not only in football, Merzon said.
“We have the best facilities in every sport and even in our classrooms with the technology that we have and it shows in our test scores,” Merzon said, who is an outspoken advocate of requiring players to perform on the field and the classroom.
Which is why this fundraiser has been such an easy sell, Higgs said.
“We’ve had such a great response from the community, the Saddle Club, and the H-B…it’s really a team effort. That’s what I love about this town. It’s all about friendships and families,” Higgs said.
Merzon nodded, saying, “That’s Oakdale. That’s what Oakdale does. Oakdale likes getting together having a good time and supporting their own.”

Tickets are $35/person. Make checks payable to the Quarterback Club. Purchase tickets from Scott or Matt at Oakdale Tire, 811 S. Yosemite Ave. or contact Jaime Jimenez at 543-4301 or Shelayne Higgs at 581-3776.
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