Friendly bet turns into $40K giving spree


Friendly bet turns into $40,000 giving spree

Nearly $40,000 has been raised for the St. Francois County Shop With a Cop program after a friendly wager between two local businesses turned into a giving spree.

On Friday night, two area rival high school football teams, the North County Raiders and the Farmington Knights, went head to head on Farmington’s field.

The visiting Raiders scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and went on to win the game 35-12. It was the Raiders’ first victory over the Knights since the 2013 season.

As if a season-opener between two football rivals wasn’t exciting enough, two local businesses made things more interesting, using the rivalry as a fun opportunity to raise money for a good cause.

“I came up with the idea the Wednesday before the game,” said Bryant Restoration Owner Reggie AuBuchon. “I used to play at North County so the North County/Farmington rivalry has always been a fun one for me.

“So I was lying there in bed, and I started thinking about how we could do a fundraiser for charity for the rivalry game,” AuBuchon explained. “I thought of just kind of reaching out to my biggest competitor — my biggest rival in our industry, I guess you could call it — and just make a friendly wager.”

On Thursday, Bryant Restoration posted on social media challenging Servpro of Farmington to wager a $500 charity donation on the outcome of Friday night’s game.

Servpro accepted the bet and raised it by $4,500, betting $5,000 on the Farmington football team to win.

“They also said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do St. Francois County Shop With a Cop [for our charity],” AuBuchon recalled. “We do a lot of work with them throughout the year anyway, so we said, ‘you know what, instead of making this a competition between charities, let’s just jump on board with Shop With a Cop and just make it a two-way street. Then that way, maybe we can get some other people in the area to throw in some money on this thing too.’ That’s when it just kind of took off.

“… it turned into a really great thing,” AuBuchon added. “It’s really all about the kids at the end of the day.”

Bryant Restoration won the bet but opted to still donate $5,000 to St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department’s Shop With a Cop program along with Servpro of Farmington.

Servpro of Farmington Owner Kyle S. Short said he was satisfied with the outcome and the amount raised for a worthy cause. He said he would like to see the donations continue so Shop With a Cop could have one of their biggest years yet.

“We are very pleased to see the community come together around this great organization,” said Short. “This friendly bet turned into hitting the lotto for the Shop With a Cop organization. We will be able to service a record number of kids this year; I have no doubt. We are continuing to challenge individuals and businesses to join us in giving for a record-breaking year for Shop With a Cop.”

Deputy Amy Brenneke, who helps organize Shop With a Cop each year, said she was amazed at the amount of support and grateful that a simple bet between two local companies could snowball into such a tremendous fundraiser.

“I’m so thankful that Servpro and Bryant Restoration have their friendly rivalry going on and, due to that rivalry, the community really came together and everything,” said Brenneke.

Brenneke said this past weekend saw the largest amount of money ever collected for the Shop With a Cop program at one time.

“Usually, our biggest fundraiser is the Shop With a Cop Golf Tournament, and usually we get about $12,000 to $15,000,” she said. “So we’ve almost tripled that.”

Deputies were at Friday’s game selling raffle tickets for a four-wheeler donated by Midwest Sports and J98, another fundraiser for Shop With a Cop.

Brenneke said more than $1,000 was raised from the approximately 892 raffle tickets sold at the game. She said they ran out of raffle tickets at one point, so she and Shorts’ girlfriend, Sharece Dale, had to cut out additional tickets by hand to keep selling them.

The sheriff’s department still has several thousand tickets to sell for the four-wheeler drawing leading up into the Christmas season, when the prize winner will be drawn on Dec. 16.

Shop With a Cop raises money year-round to help children from low-income families in St. Francois County. Schools and social workers pick the children. The children receive $100 tax-free to shop at Walmart with a law enforcement officer or another volunteer.

“The sheriff’s department is so thankful for our generous community that really came together for this cause, and hopefully, we can take more kids than we’ve ever taken this year for Shop With a Cop,” said Brenneke. “It’s a shame that we need this program, but, at the same time, we are so thankful that our community is generous enough for us to be able to have this program.”

Other area businesses also wanted to join the fun, including Domino’s Pizza who threw in $5,000 of their own to the cause.

By the end of the workday on Friday, several other local businesses had posted on social media that they wanted to participate, upping the amount to be donated to Shop With a Cop. Other local companies were being challenged to make a bet, as well.

Farmington companies Certified Restoration Specialists and Quality Cleaning and Restoration each donated $2,500. Cedar Falls Tactical of Bonne Terre gave $2,350 to the cause.

Donating at least $1,000 to the Shop With a Cop program were Krekeler Jewelers in Farmington, Hub’s Pub in Bonne Terre, Parkland Monument Co. in Farmington, Bullseye Equipment & Tool Rental in Bonne Terre, and Hammack Advisory Group in Desloge.

Several other businesses have donated or have pledged to donate various amounts to the program. A growing list has been posted on Bryant Restoration’s Facebook page. The list has been continually updated since it was first posted as more businesses and individuals donate.

Shop With a Cop President Lora Henson expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of donations this past weekend.

“As President of Shop With a Cop, I want to say think you so very much to everyone who made this possible,” said Henson. “You not only helped the children of the community but the officers and deputies as well.

“We have an amazing community that everyone should be proud of,” she said. “The businesses are always willing to help every year. Without all of you, this would not be possible. It also lets our deputies and officers know the community does support them and what they are doing.

“Thank you, Amy Brenneke, for always being there and helping,” Henson added. “You do so much, and you keep up with all the Facebook stuff. You are truly appreciated. Thank you, everyone.”

For information about the Shop With a Cop program and its other fundraisers, visit the program’s Facebook Page: “St. Francois County Shop With a Cop.”

Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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