Paper airplane contest raises over $2,500 for Unalaska nonprofit, Alexandria House
19-year-old Rodrey Sebastian and his little brother 13-year-old Eli Warden stepped into the gym at Unalaska’s Community Center on Saturday with one thing on their minds: winning.
They’d already made one attempt and thrown a few paper airplanes each, then bought an extra 10 sheets of paper and sat carefully folding each into the same long, slender design.
“We’re trying to send our parents to vacation,” Sebastian said. “They need it.”
The brothers came to compete in the island’s very first Extreme Foldable Flight Event, a paper airplane contest that raised over $2,500 for the Alexandria House, a local nonprofit.
The brothers were just two of dozens of Unalaskans that showed up Saturday in hopes of taking home the grand prize of two round-trip Ravn Alaska tickets from Unalaska to Anchorage.
Unfortunately for the brothers, the extra 10 planes didn’t quite cut it.
Competitor Gotti Torres led the competition for most of the day.
When asked what his strategy was, Torres was coy.
“Confidential,” he said.
Other competitors were happy to share their strategies. 10-year-old Elijah Nelson made a few airplanes that were on display as examples for others to use as guides. He said he came to compete, but also to offer his expertise.
“I just like making paper airplanes a lot,” Nelson said. “I remember in first grade whenever it was indoor break time, I would make a paper airplane and throw it.”
The competition was sponsored by Ambiental Options, an Anchorage-based sanitizing company that started cleaning buildings in Unalaska around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about two years ago.
Owner Bill Carter said he’s grown to really appreciate the island community and wanted to give back with a fundraiser.
At first, he said he wasn’t sure what organization to raise funds for. But after one of his employees needed help and turned to Unalaska’s Alexandria House – a nonprofit that gives people things like housing, food, medicine and transportation – Carter decided the organization would be a worthy recipient.
“A lot of these people wouldn't have any place to turn if it wasn’t for the Alexandria House. They've done a great job. We're just trying to help them,” he said.
The nonprofit was founded about ten years ago by John and Sue Honan. The couple will be leaving the island this year, but Sue said they’ll still help keep the Alexandria House running after they leave.
She said she’s grateful to everyone who helped and turned out to Saturday’s fundraiser and she’s hoping this will become an annual event.
While Torres wasn’t able to hold his standing in first place, he did come in third and won a fishing trip with local charter company – Fish On Charters.
Ian Bagley took second place, and Albert Burnham went home with the grand prize.
By the end of the day, the event had raised $2,650 for the Alexandria House.