Hesselbart has just the ticket for BGSU raffle sales
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 04 January 2014 09:42
Outfitted in his signature 50/50 apron and an orange BGSU sweatshirt and ball cap, Wil Hesselbart calls out to those headed to the men's basketball game at the Stroh Center that "You can't win without a ticket."
|Will Hesselbart is seen in the Stroh Center with 50/50 raffle tickets. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
It's his signature line - and apparently a line that works well.
Most would agree, raising $136,000 for the Falcon Club, a fundraising arm for BGSU Athletics, isn't too shabby.
The 86-year-old has been selling 50/50 raffle tickets for the Falcon Club for 16 years.
"I just keep going. I hit 80 years old and I felt good so I told myself I am just going to keep selling," said Hesselbart during his pre-game ticket sale before a recent BGSU men's basketball game.
"I think I am going to make it to $150,000."
For his efforts, Hesselbart, of Woodville, was recently named BGSU's Outstanding Community Volunteer.
Besides greeting attendees with a smile, Hesselbart uses a technique called "hollering" to help raise money for the Falcon Club.
"I do a lot of shouting. When everyone goes by, I holler.
"I used to holler one ticket for $1, or five tickets for $5 and people would turn around and look at me and say, 'That's not a bargain.'"
The volunteer position also requires persistence. Some walk by and pretend not to hear his calls. Others respond with a polite "No thanks" or "Not today."
"Sometimes people will go up a few steps (on the stairs) and then they will stop and come back down to buy a ticket," he said.
But no matter what, Hesselbart never gets discouraged.
"I love to go out to the tailgaters and sell. It's fun to go around and talk to them. A lot of them say, 'I don't want any tickets and I'll just keep talking. Then, finally someone will say, 'I'll take a ticket' and then everyone wants one."
Twice, he sold more than $2,000 worth of tickets during a football game.
When he first started selling, Hesselbart said he wrestled with his faith. But, after some soul searching, he decided the 50/50 raffle served the greater good as the money raised goes toward BGSU student-athlete scholarships.
"That's what it's all about," he said.
While Hesselbart retired from Sun Oil Refinery, Toledo, in 1986, it doesn't seem he will be stepping down from 50/50 anytime soon.
"I'll probably keep going until I can't go anymore," he said.
Beyond his 50/50 career, Hesselbart has been a lifelong Falcon fan.
He first started attending basketball games in 1947. Those were the days when the likes of the multi-million dollar Stroh Center, and its predecessor, Anderson Arena, had not even been built.
Games were played at the old men's gym.
"They just had bleachers on each side and you always had to wait for Christmas vacation so you could get a spot because all the students were there."