ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The phrase “raising money for a good cause” is a way of life for Tom Stebbins, a professional emcee and auctioneer. His 15-year-old daughter, Lyla Stebbins, is “sold” on becoming the next certified auctioneer in the family.
Tom is a member of the National Auctioneers Association and owns the event consulting firm—Bidfire Auctions and Fundraising. He’s hosted fundraisers for countless charities, from the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Mohawk Hudson Humane Society to the Epilepsy Foundation and the Pride Center of the Capital Region.
“Gosh, I’ve raised way over 10 million dollars easily,” Tom said. “People are giving their hard-earned dollars for a wonderful cause, and you’ve got to make sure to bring that energy, bring that appreciation.”
A specific cause pulled on Lyla’s heartstrings and inspired her to learn more about her dad’s unique skillset.
“The reason I got started was because the American Heart Association is a charity that’s very dear to me,” Lyla said.
At six weeks old, Lyla struggled to breathe and was rushed to Albany Medical Center. Doctors diagnosed her with Patent Ductus Arteriosus—a congenital heart defect that causes an opening between major blood vessels. Lyla underwent surgery to close the opening and made a full recovery.
Last year, Lyla decided to give back to others experiencing heart issues. She took the microphone for the first time as an auctioneer at a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
The AHA was impressed with Lyla and invited her to host the non-profit’s upcoming national fundraiser at the 2024 American Heart Ball in Washington, D.C.
“Every single event, I’m right next to my dad,” Lyla said. “So, I get to, kind of, visually learn. But really throughout all of this, he’s been my mentor ’cause he’s the best in the game!”
Lyla is determined to become the “youngest certified Benefit Auctioneer Specialist in history.” In December, Tom and Lyla plan to fly to Las Vegas, where she aims to earn her certification with the National Auctioneers Association.
You can watch the full interview with Tom and Lyla Stebbins below.