From The Who tickets, getaway vacations to Lake Geneva, VIP tours of museums, Fighting Illini tickets and autographed athlete photographs to the grand prize of cash money, there are a lot of amazing things being auctioned this weekend at the I Hotel & Conference Center. These are only a handful of the over one hundred prizes available to win in the live and silent auctions and raffles at the “Dare to Dream, Dream to Build” fundraiser in Champaign tonight from 6 to 11 p.m.

It is a combined effort between Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County and the Home Builders Association of East Central Illinois (HBAECI) to raise money for the work they do locally with construction and education respectively. Both groups are nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to creating safe and happy homes for residents in both Champaign County and the counties surrounding it.

This is the third consecutive year of the “Dare to Dream, Dream to Build” fundraiser, and in the past it has been a must-see event. In the two previous years, they raised $40,000, and this year their goal is to hit $50,000. Kelly Hill, the development director for Habitat for Humanity in Champaign County, and her committee have been meeting weekly since July, and all of their efforts will be shown in the amazing outcome of the fundraiser.

Tickets are $75 each, a lower price than in previous years, and include dinner and drinks. There will be two $2,000 prizes given out during games open to all guests and one $5,000 grand prize. The organizations are selling a maximum of 400 tickets this year.

Brian Moline of “WILL-The Morning Edition” will be the master of ceremonies and will be speaking for most of the event. Former Urbana Schools Superintendent Dr. Preston Williams and his wife will co-host the event as well.

Hill said that at the event Habitat for Humanity and the Home Builders Association will be giving the families of the two new homes their keys. This will be an exciting and emotional event for all who were involved in the building of their houses.

“The best part about what we do here is we really are about investing in our community,” Hill said.

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit with the overall goal of providing sustainable housing for every person and family who needs it. It uses a zero interest mortgage program, which takes about 20 years for the homeowner to pay back. Much of the expenses of building a house are waived by using volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money, land and materials. If a family is interested in owning a Habitat for Humanity home, they can fill out an application and will be chosen based on their housing need, ability to pay and willingness to partner with Habitat. If families fit the criteria, they are put on a waiting list for the next open house.

“It is a hand up, not a hand out,” Hill said.

Habitat for Humanity is not giving away houses, but rather helping families through the process of home owning. Also, it does not only provide affordable housing, but also gives a family a stable environment for kids to play and live in. This is an organization that really moves and changes a family.

“Families go from struggling, to partnering with an organization like Habitat,” Hill said.

Since the Champaign County chapter was formed in 1991, they have worked with thousands of volunteers and have touched numerous families’ lives. This is Hill’s third year working with Habitat for Humanity and says she enjoys the team effort and community involvement that Habitat for Humanity provides.

The money raised during “Dare to Dream, Dream to build” will be split equally between Habitat for Humanity and the HBAECI. Habitat will use its portion of the money to help build more homes in the community and the HCAECI will spend its share to fund construction management scholarships at Parkland College.

The Home Builders Association was founded in 1956. It is a group of builders and businesses in seven counties from Eastern Illinois, who are committed to construction and fixing national housing issues – for example, mandatory fire sprinklers in new construction. The group advocates ethical business practices, educates the members’ communities, serves as a professional resource, offers certification programs and much more. It has about 250 members and works across seven counties in Eastern Illinois. This is the first year that HBAECI is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to help build two new Habitat for Humanity homes.

Tickets can be purchased online through www.cuhabitat.org. The organizations plan to continue this fundraiser as an annual tradition. If you are unable to attend the event, there are many other opportunities to be involved with Habitat for Humanity, such as donating money, working on builds and volunteering at the ReStore.

“Dare to Dream, Dream to Build” will be held at the I-Hotel on Friday, Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.

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