Black ties, formal dresses and ruby slippers were the proper attire for “A Night in Oz,” the theme for this year’s Auction of Champions, which raised $205,000 for the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC).

The Sept. 17 dinner event with live and silent auction packages has now raised nearly $3.3 million for NFMC, a division of Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation since 1982.

“We receive tremendous support from community members, businesses and Marshfield Clinic Health System employees annually at Auction of Champions,” said NFMC Director Matthew Keifer, M.D. “This supports our mission of conducting agricultural research and promoting a safe and healthy working environment for everyone in agriculture.”

Military veterans were in the spotlight at this year’s event in two ways.

First, a highlight was $25,000 raised for “Veterans to Farmers” as this year’s fund-a-need program. Casper Bendixsen, Ph.D., associate research scientist and anthropologist, is researching the benefits and challenges of veterans returning to agricultural careers. Agriculture is thought to be a therapeutic career with many rewards for veterans, but also is filled with hurdles.

“We just asked these men and women to do the most dangerous job abroad; now we’re asking them to do the most dangerous job domestically,” Bendixsen said. “Society is willing to support careers for veterans, but we need to do the research to emphasize the benefits and mitigate the risks.”

Second, members of Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 120th Field Artillery provided parking valet service.

And the evening was overall fun, lighthearted and exciting. The décor at RiverEdge Golf Course brought “The Wizard of Oz” to life in Marshfield. Dorothy, a.k.a. Brooke Wolff from Development, greeted guests. Tables with silent auction items, hors d'oeuvres and Wizard of Oz decorations suggested to participants that they weren’t in Marshfield anymore.

Participants saw 27 live auction packages up for bidding, including eight that had a mystery box. At the end of the live auction, the eight mystery box winners came on stage to reveal their additional prizes, which included a grand prize of a 2015 Polaris Ranger ATV.

“The Wizard of Oz theme was a great success that people really enjoyed,” said Tiffany Halan, manager of operations and special events, Development. “The auctions were fun and competitive. We even had a package that included a two-person hot air balloon ride worth $700 that bidders drove up to a winning price of $8,500.”

Victoria Viegut, M.D., Pediatrics Primary Care, Marshfield Center, won the pre-auction raffle for a one-week stay in Scariff, Ireland, donated by Ann and Fergus McKiernan, M.D., Rheumatology, Marshfield Center.