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Media frenzy spikes West Fargo gun raffle sales -- Hockey association will likely raise $100,000 after CNN, Huffington Post, CBS Radio buzz

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Media frenzy spikes West Fargo gun raffle sales -- Hockey association will likely raise $100,000 after CNN, Huffington Post, CBS Radio buzz
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

WEST FARGO - The media spotlight that has been trained on the West Fargo Hockey Association's gun raffle will likely guarantee it meets its fundraising goal of $100,000, according to Mike Prochnow, an association board member and organizer of the event.

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The association held a similar raffle last year, but more than 600 of its 4,000 raffle tickets weren't sold.

Another 4,000 tickets costing $40 apiece were printed for this year's raffle, which offers 200 guns as prizes.

Prochnow said after national media picked up the story, ticket sales picked up, too.

He said as of Thursday perhaps a couple hundred tickets remained, but the total was unknown as tickets were still being gathered and brought to Scheels, which has been made a distribution center for selling them.

About 240 tickets went out the door at Scheels on Wednesday, Prochnow said.

Prochnow said the association was processing emails Thursday from about 500 people who wanted tickets.

Prochnow said tickets are going fast, but anyone interested can stop by Scheels to check on availability. He said they can also send an email to the association over the organization's website, where there is a message posted saying organizers are trying to validate how many tickets are remaining due to an "overwhelming response."

To preserve the odds of the raffle, the group can only sell 4,000 tickets, organizers said.

According to Prochnow, association officials have been contacted by a variety of news outlets, including the Seattle Times, the Boston Globe, the Huffington Post and CBS Radio. Most want to know why the youth hockey nonprofit is holding a gun raffle at a time when the nation is debating gun laws.

Prochnow and the association's president, Cal Helgeson, stress that the raffle started long before December's highly publicized school shooting in Connecticut, and they say guns have a different connotation in North Dakota than they might in other parts of the country.

"We have a way of life out here, and it's called hunting," Helgeson said.

While the association has essentially purchased 200 guns from Scheels, Helgeson said what ticket buyers are purchasing is a chance for a gift card. If they happen to hold a winning ticket that entitles them to a shotgun, they could opt to put the value of the gun toward something else, like a couch, Helgeson said.

The raffle will take place March 15 at the Speedway Event Center in West Fargo.

Raffle winners must meet state and federal firearm requirements to receive or possess a firearm.

Prochnow said the association hopes to raise about $80,000 through the raffle of the guns and a Polaris Ranger, an all-terrain vehicle. He said the group is also looking raise $15,000 to $20,000 through its annual banquet.

The organization plans to use the money it raises to construct a new hockey rink that would house two sheets of ice.

The success of the annual raffles will ensure they repeat, Prochnow said.

"Is this raffle going to be here next year? Yes it is," he said.

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