Rodrey Sebastian, 19, and his little brother Eli Warden, 13, walked into the gymnasium at the Unalaska Community Center on Saturday with one thing on their mind: to win.
They had already made an attempt and threw in a few paper planes each, then bought 10 more sheets of paper and sat down, folding them neatly into the same long, slender design.
“We try to send our parents on vacation,” Sebastian said. “They need it.”
The brothers came to participate in the island’s first-ever Extreme Foldable Flight Event, a paper airplane contest that raised more than $2,500 for Alexandria House, a local nonprofit.
The brothers were just two of dozens of Unalaskans who showed up Saturday hoping to win the grand prize of two Ravn Alaska round-trip tickets from Unalaska to Anchorage.
Unfortunately for the brothers, the 10 additional planes did not quite succeed.
Competitor Gotti Torres led the competition for most of the day.
When asked what his strategy was, Torres was coy.
“Confidential,” he said.
Other contestants were happy to share their strategies. Elijah Nelson, 10, made a few planes which were displayed as examples for others to use as guides. He says he came to compete, but also to offer his expertise.
“I really like making paper airplanes,” Nelson said. “I remember in first grade, whenever it was indoor playtime, I would make a paper airplane and throw it.”
The competition was sponsored by Ambiental Options, an Anchorage-based disinfection company that began cleaning buildings in Unalaska at the start of the COVID-19 pandemicabout two years ago.
Owner Bill Carter said he learned to really appreciate the Island community and wanted to give back with a fundraiser.
At first, he said he wasn’t sure which organization to fundraise for. But after one of his employees needed help and turned to The Alexandria House of Unalaska — a nonprofit that gives people things like housing, food, medicine and transportation — Carter decided the organization would be a worthy recipient.
“Many of these people would have no place to turn to if it weren’t for the House of Alexandria. They did a great job. We just try to help them,” he said.
The association was founded about ten years ago by John and Sue Honan. The couple will be leaving the island this year, but Sue said they will still help run the Alexandria home after they leave.
She said she was grateful to everyone who helped out and participated in Saturday’s fundraiser and she hopes it will become an annual event.
Although Torres was unable to maintain his first place finish, he came third and won a fishing trip with the local charter company – Fish On Charters.
Ian Bagley took second place and Albert Burnham walked away with the grand prize.
By the end of the day, the event had raised $2,650 for the House of Alexandria.