Buckeye Cruise for Cancer: Day 2 Brings Out the Benjamins
By Brandon Castel
The day began with hundreds of eager Ohio State fans lining up to get precious memorabilia signed by some of their all-time favorite athletes. The Buckeyes were spread out at six different stations and signed autographs at 8:30 in the morning. A few of them needed an extra dose of coffee.
Hopalong Cassady had prepared some pre-signed photos, but the rest of the players were pretty generous about signing whatever the fans had brought with them.
In the evening, fans could pose for O-H-I-O photos with the three Heisman Trophy winners aboard the ship. That would be Hopalong, Archie Griffin and Eddie George. The photos were $300, but the money went to Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.
Exploring Key West
Friday was our first full day on the ship, and we made our first stop in Key West. For those who have never traveled to Key West, it’s a fantastic little beach town on the southernmost key off the coast of Florida. It’s what separates the United States from the Caribbean and it was a safe haven for renowned American author Ernest Hemingway during the 1930s.
Key West is a little trip to paradise with a small-town feel. It’s straight out of a Jimmy Buffett song, and many of the local joints are alive with the sounds of Margaritaville. Some people decided to take guided tours around the city, but we ventured out on our own.
Our first stop was a little Italian gelato place owned by real Italians. I’m not talking about Italians who claim to be real Italians because their grandmother came over on the boat. These people were the ones on the boat. The gelato, as I suspected, was fantastic. My only regret was that I left without trying the pizza.
We swore we would make it back for a slice of true Italian pie, but our journey took us another direction. The next stop was a local coffee shop on Caroline Street called the Coffee Plantation. We sat on the front porch and had an iced latte with coconut. Fantastic.
As we were getting ready to leave, who came walking by but Urban Meyer. He was followed closely by a security guard who had been assigned to follow the high-profile cruiser around the island.
Meyer’s daughter Gigi and wife Shelley were not far behind.
After finishing up our coffee, we took off in the same direction as the Meyers, but we ended up at a little art gallery on the main strip. That owner pointed us in a better direction: Miler Marker Zero and the Southernmost Point of the Continental United States.
It turned out to be nothing special, really, just a pick statue that says Southern Most Point where people pose in front of a sign that says ‘90 Miles to Cuba.’ It wasn’t something you tell your kids about in 20 years, but it was a unique feeling.
We followed that up with a stop at a hand-rolled cigar shop, which went perfectly with our final destination: The Hemingway Home. On our way, we passed Mile Marker Zero and the end of U.S. Route 1, the major north-south U.S. Highway that serves the East Coast of the United States.
The Hemingway House was a unique scene as well. We found it by looking for the lighthouse across the street, which is reportedly why they selected that house in the first place. It was purchased for the Nobel Prize-winner and his wife by a family member, and they reportedly chose that spot across from the lighthouse so he could find his way home from the bar at the end of the night.
We didn’t go inside – mainly because didn’t want the ship to leave without us – but it was cool to see where Hemingway spent five years working on the early stages of For Whom The Bell Tolls.
He would move away in 1935 after his divorce, but Key West was one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts.
Urban’s 12-0 Auction
The true highlight of Day 2 on the ship was Urban Meyer’s “12-0 Auction” that evening in the Coral Theatre after we boarded the ship from our excursion in Key West. The event featured a number of incredible, sometimes one-of-a-kind items that were auctioned off for more money than a lot of people have in their entire bank accounts.
We will have a more detailed list of the items that were auctioned off Friday and Saturday, but the highlight of the evening, without question, was the women who paid $10,000 to cut off Bobby Carpenter’s ponytail.
He said his wife had been bothering him about it for a while and he decided when he did finally cut his hair, it would be for a good cause. Ohio State fans know Bobby has had his long hair since his OSU playing days, but now that hair will belong to Hawk’s Locks, a charity foundation started by former teammate A.J. Hawk.
Carpenter said he plans to keep his hair short from now on.
Another big item on Friday night – to everyone’s surprise – was a chance to attend the Pink concert in Columbus this spring with former OSU quarterback Justin Zwick. The winner of that auction could take 12 people in a limousine with Zwick to the concert at Value City Arena.
How much is something like that worth? You might be surprised to know it went for over $15,000. That’s a little more than what it cost for someone to attend dinner with J.J. and Jared Sullinger at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Columbus.
The emcee for the event was 10TV’s Dom Tiberi, but they brought out the big guns for the final item. First, Anthony Schlegel came up and led the entire crowd in the new ‘quick Cals’ tradition.
Then Urban and Shelley Meyer took the stage to auction off a pair of 12-0 championship rings. These are the same rings the players got for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division title this season, but they looked more like national championship rings.
Meyer said he picked Etienne Sabino and Travis Howard to come up with a design for the rings. His only rule was that they had to be simple. These were far from simple, but Meyer said he just couldn’t say no after all those kids went through over the last two years.
The men’s ring went for $17,000 and they sold four of the women’s rings – which were only given to the wives of the coaches and OSU staff – for $11,000 apiece.
It was a tremendous night of giving, and even Urban and Shelley were blown away by the amount of money being thrown around in that auditorium. The players celebrated with a cocktail party on the main deck for everyone on the boat. Eddie George led the way for a long night of line dancing under the stars.
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