I became a product of my own ambition and personal drive. I got the best of life, rather than life getting the best of me. Each day I live my life with no regrets, and I try to express my gratitude daily for life’s many blessings. My compassion for people continues to grow each day.
May 21, 2019
Seattle benefit auctioneer Tom DiNardo was back at the top again in January 2013. His nationally recognized fundraising auctions firm DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers had survived the Great Recession, which had ended just the year before, and “The charity auctioneer business was getting back on track”, according to Tom. DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers is world famous and well known for their record-setting fundraising revenues achieved through their charity auction galas. By this point in his illustrious career, charity auctioneer Tom DiNardo had raised well over 100 million dollars for nonprofits and charities across the United States. There were no blocks to Tom DiNardo’s ongoing and future success.
“On February 26, 2013 I was invited to a nonprofit client’s Bellingham, WA. home for dinner to discuss a planned fundraising auction for their nonprofit. After dinner I had left the client’s apartment home. I was leaving the front entrance. The wooden staircase had rotting timbers and was not built to specified building codes, and so it collapsed with me on top of it. After regaining consciousness, I remembered feeling the most intense pain I had ever felt, and seeing my limbs bent and contorted. I was going into shock. I was across the street from an elementary school on an evening during a Parent Teacher’s event. I screamed for help, watching people exit the school, and no one came to my aid. It was a life-threatening accident”, recounts Tom.
No stranger to pain, suffering and or hard work, Tom DiNardo grew up in a very abusive household. At nine years of age, he remembers a childhood friend being shot before his eyes in the 1970s in San Jose, California. With a serious tone in his voice Tom recounts, “There was a lot more that happened to me in childhood, but what is more important is that a I didn’t become a product of my environment, but instead a I became a product of my own ambition and personal drive. I got the best of life, rather than life getting the best of me. Each day I live my life with no regrets, and I try to express my gratitude daily for life’s many blessings. My compassion for people continues to grow each day.”
Tom graduated from high school in the 1980s. “Becoming a benefit auctioneer was not even a thought in my mind at that time. I should not have graduated from high school, but somehow, I managed to graduate. I could barely write a paragraph. It’s not that I was not intelligent, but I just was not motivated or challenged in high school. College changed that for me, and I had an epiphany during my first year in college that this was my opportunity to make something more of myself”, recounts Tom. While enrolled in college Tom DiNardo completed adult education courses offered in the evenings, and he earned his Emergency Medical Technician, wildland firefighting, and law enforcement officer certificates.
Tom painfully retells the heartache he felt working as an EMT in 1985 during summer breaks from college, “I was the youngest EMT in my county at that time. We worked with GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) syndrome patients before the illness came to be later known as AIDS. These people needed help, and they were virtually abandoned by society at that time. I knew then that had I wanted to do more for people during my lifetime, and the seed of my personal compassion had begun to germinate”.
After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in 1988, Tom DiNardo first fulfilled his dream of becoming a park ranger. Tom fondly quips, “I loved being a park ranger. I possessed all of required training, but the job really was heavily focused on law enforcement during those times and less on naturalist duties. That’s not what I had wanted”. Tom wanted to serve people in a different way. He left that job and taught developmentally disabled children and juvenile youth offenders on an Emergency Teaching Credential in the San Francisco Bay Area. “I loved working with those kids, but I was barely able to pay rent or feed myself on those teacher’s wages back then. I knew I had to change careers, and that’s when my mentor (a fellow auctioneer) introduced to the craft of auctioneering”
Tom DiNardo founded DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers in 1993 in the Bay Area. From its humble grass roots beginnings, Tom’s company originally provided an estate auctions, certified appraisals, organized liquidations, and storage locker auctioneer services. His company very soon found its niche in what today is now commonly known as a fundraising auctioneers, charity auctioneers, and or benefit auctioneers service.
Within a few years DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers focused almost exclusively on providing fundraising auctioneers for charity auctions and special events fundraising galas. Tom DiNardo soon found himself traveling outside of California to other states to fulfill his nonprofit client’s charity auctioneer requests. “I very quickly realized that our nonprofit clients wanted more than just a bid caller. These charities not only wanted someone to further build upon their fundraising auctions strengths, but they also they wanted an expert to identify their fundraising auctions challenges or weaknesses. At that point we began successfully providing a fundraising consulting service which quickly set us apart from our competitors”, said DiNardo.
By the year 2000 DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers had become a nationally recognized charity auctions firm, raising over 50 million dollars for charities and nonprofits. Tom remembers, “By 2004 we were ranked as one of the ‘Top 4 fundraising auction firms’ in the United States’ and as an auctioneer I had presided over some of the country’s largest and most successful charity auctions. Tom DiNardo was inducted into “Who’s Who in America” in 2005 as a nationally recognized professional fundraiser. In 2007 he had earned a masters degree in wine & spirits, receiving his sommelier diploma, and thereby becoming the first auctioneer in the United States to earn this notable distinction. Tom DiNardo had also developed an online wine personality known as The Wine Zealot, and today he is an accomplished wine educator and wine appraiser.
Fighting visible emotion, Tom retells, “After the 2013 accident, I thought my career as a fundraising auctioneer was over. The doctors said ‘you’ll never walk the same again’. I endured six operations, and I spent the first six months with the whole left side of my body in casts”. Tom enthusiastically retells the stories of how a few of dedicated auction clients had Tom preside over their fundraising auctions while he was still in casts. “I still set auction records in casts. After those casts were removed, I spent another six months in braces, and then after that I walked with a cane. I didn’t give up, and I was bound and determined to recover. I spent hours in physical therapy, and I spent even more hours on my own in the gym. I truly benefitted from Rolfing therapy. Eventually I walked without a cane, and a slight limp. More importantly, I was still performing auctions and helping nonprofits during those incredibly challenging times, and I have the charity auction videos that prove my success”, recalls DiNardo.
In December of 2017 Tom DiNardo had almost fully recovered from the 2013 accident. He was then involved in a car accident in which he was the driver of the vehicle caught in between two others and suffered new injuries. Again, in December of 2018 he was rear-ended on his way to the airport. DiNardo states, “I had suffered two new herniated discs with extruding disc material, neck injuries, and other significant injuries, but I am recovering and keeping a great attitude. The bottom line is that looking at me today, no one would ever be able to visibly discern my injuries and or the hell I have been put through over the last several years”.
So where does this leave Tom DiNardo and DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers today? “I actually believe that I am both physically and spiritually stronger than I have ever been. I have new understanding and positive outlook on life. My level of compassion and understanding of people’s pain and suffering has grown significantly through my own deep and very personal understanding based upon my personal experiences. As a veteran professional fundraising auctioneer, my personal suffering and past painful experiences better enable me to identify with the nonprofit causes that I continue to serve. Today I provide an even more compassionate and heart-centered service than I ever had before. I not only fulfill, but I surpass my nonprofit client’s fundraising objectives by creating all-time fundraising auction records. Under promise and over deliver is my daily mantra”, says DiNardo.
After more than a quarter century, Tom DiNardo still leads DiNardo & Lord Auctioneers in assisting nonprofits to exceed their fundraising goals. He successfully runs a couple of other companies and occasionally does some acting and appears in a few television commercials. Tom is truly inspired by his life experiences, and he now shares his positive message with people and organizations around the country as a motivational speaker and life coach.
Published at Tue, 21 May 2019 00:00:00 +0000