Community leaders helped raise at least $16,000 for Navarro College’s Ellis County students through a live auction alone during an evening in the atmosphere of “The Great Gatsby.”

The Brilliance scholarship fundraising gala is the college’s largest fundraiser for the college, helping more than 750 students since its inception seven years ago. The event took place Saturday evening at the Midlothian Conference Center. A total amount wasn't available at press time because more donations were expected to come in during the following days after the event and that did not include corporate sponsors and raffle ticket buyers, college officials said.

“Being here tonight, with you, gives me an opportunity to discuss a topic that’s near and dear to me and that’s higher education,” said the county’s State Rep. John Wray, a Waxahachie native and former Navarro College student, who was also the event’s guest speaker. “In particular, public higher education that’s afforded to Ellis County students through the Navarro College.

“Higher education is a key to betterment for all Texans, and helps build stronger communities and a vibrant economy in the state of Texas,” he added. “I know that it’s important to you, that’s why you’re here. Many deserving students need your help to attend Navarro and further their educations. That is what Brilliance is all about.”

Beyond a raffle contest for top-notch door prizes, the live auction kicked off with trying to find a forever home for a Chihuahua puppy donated by A Friend of Midlothian Pets in Need. The puppy sold for $450 after a small bidding battle and encouragement from the children of new owner Sandy Camp.

Camp, a Waxahachie resident and wife to a man who helped construct Navarro College’s second building on the Waxahachie campus, said she almost took home last year’s puppy, but her husband asked her to give the puppy to the next bidder. This year, that was not the case and Brock, the name given by Camp because it was strong, will be in a loving home, she said.

“I’m a dog lover and I already have one rescue that I love,” Camp said. “This year, I was texting my kids, asking 'what do I do,' and my daughter said, ‘I’ve wanted a Chihuahua my entire life.’ So, I said 'I’m going to get that dog.' So, when she goes off to college in about a year, she’ll get to take this with her. It’s a win-win for me. The money I spent for him goes to the kids, and we get to give him a good home so he doesn’t end up as some story on Facebook.”

Other hot auction items included:

• A Midlothian Fire Department Firehouse Fun Dinner, hosted by the firefighters and donated by fire chief Don McCaskill. The bidder paid $350.

• A waterfront lakehouse in the piney woods, donated by Tom Moore, that went for more than $600.

• A .44 caliber Bulldog Pug gun package, donated by SWFA Outdoors and Red Oak Police Chief Garland Wolf. The gun package went for $800.

• A “Batter Up” Texas Rangers baseball package for seats to a home game on the front row right behind home plate, donated by First State Bank of Rice. This brought in the largest donation at $3,000.

• A Santa Rosa Beach Condo donated by Mike Lee and his wife, where two bidders decided to split of a bid of about $2,400 to each get the trip.

• A semi-automatic Tommy Gun, donated by Magnablend. The vintage gun went for $2,200.

• Cowboy memorabilia donated by Waxahachie Independent School District’s head football coach Jon Kitna. Kitna, a former NFL quarterback donated a signed football by all of the current Dallas Cowboy players, as well as a personalized football from himself. As with the condo, two bidders split a donation of $2,400 to each get the prize.

• The last two items included a Gatsby inspired Aurba vacation in the Carribean, donated by Bruce Glaves, and a culinary evening extravaganza, donated by Gateway Mortgage Group and Town Square Title. The trip to Aruba went for $1,800 and the culinary event went for about $2,200.

Waxahachie’s Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton was the evening’s largest bidder, taking on a bidding war for the Rangers ticket as he sat at the same dinner table as his competitor.

“It wasn’t so much the tickets as it was that I wanted to make sure they made $5,000 to $10,000 for those scholarships here tonight,” Singleton said. “My favorite part about bidding like this is that there’s this many people that care.”

Navarro College gave out its 149th scholarship this year, following the funds raised at last year’s event, college officials said during the event.

Navarro usually sees more than 175 applications for general academic, dual credit and transfer scholarships that come from the gala, with scholarships given away every fall and spring semesters, according to a previous Waxahachie Daily Light article.

Scholarships are given out based on a 3.0 GPA, a letter about why the person thinks they should receive the scholarship and the person’s financial needs and scholarship recipients are decided by a committee of community leaders, the article stated.

“Thank you for your generosity and support of the Navarro College seventh annual Brilliance scholarship fundraising gala,” stated Kenneth Martin, the president of Navarro College’s Ellis County campuses in Midlothian and Waxahachie. “Your donation and contributions tonight indicate your investment in our Ellis County students. Please know that we will continue to provide quality education in preparing them as they strive to attain higher levels of education, leadership and employment.”