Auction items at Heart of the Canyon on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

One year has passed since the Beachie Creek Fire rapidly spread through the Santiam Canyon, devastating nearly everything in its wake. The Heart of the Canyon’s benefit on Saturday, Aug. 28, focused on raising awareness and money to rebuild Oregon’s playground.

Coordinator Steffani Klein reports that the event grossed over $572,000 for the cause.

Organizers committed that 100% of the money raised would go to rebuilding the canyon with 40% directly benefiting the Detroit Lake Foundation and 60% going to the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund.

Fundraisers hope to raise $5 million during the campaign and are $3,283,449 towards that goal as of Labor Day.

The beautiful Historic Heater Farm in Stayton hosted the fundraiser. The event was rescheduled due to COVID concerns, yet with some canyon residents still struggling, supporters felt they must continue the fundraising efforts.

The venue is rich with historical significance. It is a working farm and homestead. A one-room schoolhouse and the local post office were in operation on the property in the late 1800s. The property and event space is now owned and managed by Sue Heater-Nichols and her husband, Mark Nichols.

Jim Gulick and granddaughter Evie Hoppe promoted West Hills Vineyards limited edition Smokey Red wine. After the fires, the grapes had a smokey taste, and they are using this opportunity to raise dollars for the relief fund. Madi Lopez worked a booth where buyers could acquire a “mystery” bottle of wine.

A silent and oral auction gave guests more ways to donate.  A beautifully restored cherry condition 1972 Bronco was among the most desired items. After some fierce bidding, Jim Gardner drove home the vehicle.

Nina Matson provided an emotional presentation about her experience with the fires. Joel Kinney engaged the crowd with photos and stories of how he put together a team and provided food, water, and rescue efforts to endangered canyon residents. 

Rock n Roll Cowboys played during a delicious dinner. The meal was courtesy of Adam’s Ribs Smokehouse, Covered Bridge Cafe, and Lovin’ Oven. 

The organization is still accepting donations at Cash Donation (ejoinme.org).

About Santiam Canyon Wildlife Relief Fund: Established on September 11, 2020, its mission is to support residents living in the Santiam Canyon who are affected by wildfires by raising funds to provide relief, support the recovery and clean up, and assist in the rebuild of communities, including Idanha, Breitenbush, Detroit, Niagara, Gates, Mill City, Lyons, and Mehama, Oregon.

About the Detroit Lake Foundation: The Foundation has the vision and drive to bring Detroit back from the ashes and be better than ever. Their goal is to transform the town into a haven of fun with odes to the history of the timber industry.

Madi Lopez works the mystery wine pull at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mark and Sue Nichols, Jim Gardner, and Mike Klein pictured with Gardner’s restored Ford Bronco at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

State Rep. Jami Cate (R-Lebanon) and state Rep. Raquel Moore-Green (R-Salem) and husband Jim Green attend Heart of the Canyon at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Event organizers Steffani and Mike Klein at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Shelly and Rich Duncan attend Heart of the Canyon at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Just Us Girls Traci McCowan and Lesli Cable served wine at Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug 28. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Jim Gulick and granddaughter Evie Hoppe promote wine at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Masks were removed for the photo.) (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Kelly Schrieber views auction items at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Rock n Roll Cowboys play at the Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

The banner hangs over Heart of the Canyon fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional, writing regularly for Salem Reporter.

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