By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — It's a good thing artist Bryan K. Ross didn't literally break the mold after completing the original moose for the 2004's "No Moose Left Behind" project.
It's been 14 years since the successful and colorful moose public art campaign reined in several hundred thousand dollars for the EXCEL (Extras to Create Excellence in Learning) Foundation, which supplies grants to Coeur d'Alene School District teachers and counselors so they can provide their students with innovative and creative classroom projects. It was named for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 that put an emphasis on supporting underprivileged students.
On Saturday, one last life-sized fiberglass moose will be auctioned during the Big Event: An Evening of EXCELlence, continuing the tradition of making sure no children — and no moose — are left behind.
"There was a rumor that we had a moose and we visited with Bryan Ross," EXCEL president Katie Morrisroe said Tuesday. "He still had the mold and the casting. We were able to have a new moose made just for this."
Originally, 26 of these large ungulates and 39 "mini-moose" were created for the campaign and sold to individuals and businesses during a gala auction. The moose were creatively and brilliantly decorated by local artists, and a few can still be seen around town in places like on a downtown rooftop, outside Century 21 Beutler and Associates on Northwest Boulevard and on the Kootenai Health campus.
The 2018 moose has yet to be decorated, so the winning bidder will collaborate with a local artist to give this next-gen moose its painted personality. A blank mini-moose will also be going up for auction to support the nonprofit.
"We thought this was a perfect opportunity to have the moose," Morrisroe said. "It's our last moose."
Since inception more than 30 years ago, the EXCEL Foundation has awarded more than 1,100 grants and raised about $1.9 million, Morrisroe said.
"This year we funded 64 grants, totaling $173,956.28," Morrisroe said. "It's just a great organization. It's powerful to see the community support for local education."
The Big Event is EXCEL's signature function of the year, during which last year's grant recipients will be recognized and grants for the current year will be awarded.
The evening goes from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn and will feature social time, dinner, a raffle and auctions.
Tickets are $65 each or $520 for a table of eight and can be purchased at www.excelfoundation.org or by calling 208-929-2785.
The Best Western Plus Coeur d'Alene Inn is located at 506 W. Appleway Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.