An online auction sponsored by Maui e-commerce businesswoman and breast cancer survivor Jennifer Varner has fetched $4,000 to benefit The Pacific Cancer Foundation of Maui.
Maui Realtor Bill Buffington of Kihei made the winning bid.
Varner, founder and chief operating officer of pure-ecommerce.com, auctioned off one of her company's "business in a box" websites, with all proceeds going to the local cancer foundation. Her company specializes in creating and selling turnkey, ready-to-go online retail businesses selling everything from gift items and children's clothing to pet products and home decor.
Realtor Bill Buffington (left) had the winning bid in an e-commerce auction held to benefit the Pacific Cancer Foundation. Jennifer Varner (right), founder and chief executive officer of pure-ecommerce.com and a breast cancer survivor, auctioned off one of her “business in a box” websites for the nonprofit organization. Also is the photo is Jeff Scharnhorst, executive director of the Pacific Cancer Foundation.
An auction for puresportsgifts.com was open throughout the month of October to coincide with breast cancer awareness month.
Buffington, 52, said online sales is new territory for him, but he was moved after learning of Varner's battle with cancer in a Maui News article about the auction.
Varner, 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 while three months pregnant with her fourth child. That year also marked 10 years since her husband, Jeff, had been declared cancer-free after battling colon cancer.
After undergoing chemotherapy and surgeries while pregnant, she is now cancer-free and has moved with her family to Maui.
"What got me to bid was her story," said Buffington, a Realtor with ERA Pacific Properties. "My girlfriend and I, we have five grandchildren, and it just touched us reading that (Jennifer) was pregnant when it happened and her husband having survived, too."
He said his girlfriend, Terry Sheepz, works as a driver transporting cancer patients to treatment appointments.
"We haven't been touched by cancer personally, but we know so many people that have," Buffington said. "After all the things they had on their plate, for them to do something like this to benefit Maui patients, I thought it was awesome."
He said he had been looking for a possible side business to supplement his income when the auction presented an opportunity. And the sports-themed online retail store seemed to be "right down my alley," he said.
Buffington said he researched other pure-ecommerce.com buyers and was impressed with the business model.
"I was so impressed that even if I didn't win the auction, I was planning to buy a site," he said.
Varner said the auction opened at $500 and attracted 26 bidders, many from Hawaii.
Buffington's original $3,000 offer was beat before he made his winning bid. He said he plans to donate 10 percent of his sales each October to The Pacific Cancer Foundation.
Varner said she hopes to organize a similar auction annually.
"This exceeded our expectations," she said. "Bill's a really good guy, which I think made this all the more meaningful. He was so genuinely excited about not just winning, but knowing where the donation was going. It was the perfect scenario all the way around."
The donation went toward the foundation's annual Paddle for Life Maui canoe voyage to Lanai and back, bringing the event's fundraising total to $77,000, said Executive Director Jeff Scharnhorst.
"Jennifer, being a breast cancer survivor, she gets it, she wants to give back and help," Scharnhorst said. "She's brand new to Maui, and she jumped right in with such aloha and generosity to give back to the Maui ohana. Everyone pitching in - all those who participated in the auction - allows us to help out a whole lot of families in Maui County."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.