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On Monday, October 5, an enthusiastic crowd filled the Gerding Theater lobby for the 2009 Wheelies. The biannual awards ceremony is put on by the Bus Project to give the star treatment to people doing good work in the public’s interest in Oregon. The evening also raised about $60,000 for the nonprofit, which endeavors for hands-on democracy in Oregon.

Right: Black tie was celebrated by some, including Natassja Schiel, who attended the evening’s VIP reception and auction in a handmade white gown. Also spotted: Storm Large, Sam Adams, and many glitterati of the policy wonk set.

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Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber emceed the award show. For the first time this year, several Wheelies were awarded based on public vote. Over 2,000 people voted online to award honors for: Campaign for the Public Good, High-Road Bus-iness, Courage, and Citizen-Driven Campaign.

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As the evening neared its close, Jefferson Smith, Bus Project Executive Director and Representative for Oregon District 47, took to the stage. With a fundraising prowess and showman’s flair that bordered on alchemical—the man performed multiple cartwheels, literally cartwheels—Rep. Smith raised enough pledges from the stage to earn two $10,000 matching gifts toward the evening’s total contributions.

He was joined onstage by 5th graders from the The Sunset Primary School, who went home that evening with the Citizen-Driven Campaign Award for their 4th grade campaign to name the Dungeness Crab Oregon’s official state crustacean.

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Love is in the air Two Bus Project employees, Garrett Downen, Director of Special Projects and Lucy Palmersheim, Development Director, get awards and thanks from colleagues, Ian Greenfield and Caitlin Baggott. The two are engaged and are leaving The Bus for an adventure in South East Asia.

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The Bus Project balanced an evening of activities geared for their younger, new-to-the-charity-circuit crowd with more traditional touches for established supporters, such as the pre-show auction for VIP attendees. For the chance to make a smaller contribution, wine was donated from Willamette Valley Vineyards and other supporters. A bottle could be purchased for a donation, starting at $25. Additional prizes were hidden in some of the bags.

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Rose Shatkin (left) was beaming over her nomination as Best Supporting Activist for her work as a legislative Aid to Rep. Arnie Roblan. Brynne Sapp, came in from the coast. She just opened Poppy, a vintage clothing store in Florence—which explains the fabulous hat.

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"These are good people, doing good things, for no good reason," said Rep. Smith, who described Bus Project supporters and volunteers as benevolently irrational. That spirit was visible onstage throughout the evening. The VoteBot Robot danced, appeared in a video, and survived a rather gleeful smash of a beer bottle over his robot head by former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

What, you missed it? Hey, there’s always The Wheelies in 2011.

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Posters from the show make good souvenirs.

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