Check presented from "Cher" auction benefiting Flint children - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Check presented from "Cher" auction benefiting Flint children

(From left to right: Isiah Oliver, David Custer, Dan Buccilli) (From left to right: Isiah Oliver, David Custer, Dan Buccilli)
(From left to right: Dan Buccilli, David Custer, Cher, Jake Custer) (From left to right: Dan Buccilli, David Custer, Cher, Jake Custer)
Shirt signed by Cher Shirt signed by Cher
Winner of the auction Daniel Flaschka and Cher in Las Vegas Winner of the auction Daniel Flaschka and Cher in Las Vegas
Cher speaks to a crowd in Flint on October 31, 2016. Cher speaks to a crowd in Flint on October 31, 2016.
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

A personal vacation to our nation's capitol has left WNEM-TV5 news anchor David Custer feeling inspired after a celebrity encounter.

“I was flying home from Washington D.C. late Monday night looking down at the thousands of lights below realizing how small we are in this world, but at the same time reflecting on my incredible experience,” Custer said.

Just the night before, Custer met with singer/actress Cher after her concert Sunday, Sept. 4 at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

“I bought tickets to see Cher in concert during a visit to my brother in D.C.,” Custer said. “I reached out to her team to ask if I could express my gratitude on behalf of myself and everyone in Flint for using her celebrity to shine a light on the crisis as well as putting her money where her mouth is."

He presented her with a small glass water droplet that read "Thank you from your friends in Flint" and thanked her for her donation of thousands of bottles of water to the city of Flint in January 2016. Cher teamed up with Icelandic Glacial to provide the water to residents in the wake of the lead crisis. Icelandic Glacial committed to doubling Cher’s purchase, giving a total of 181,000 bottles.

Custer said he was surprised when Cher and her team were more than willing to allow him to act as an ambassador of his city and meet with the superstar in person after her show.

“Meeting with Cher backstage was surreal. I interviewed her when she came to town last Halloween and she even asked me this time how Karen (Mayor Weaver) was doing,” Custer said. “In hindsight, I think of all the things I wish I would’ve said to her this time, but my reporter hat was off and I did get a little star struck."

Cher toured a water distribution center in Flint on Oct. 31, 2016 and told Custer, “We’ve been talking about the problem but I want to see it in person, and I want to be here in person.”

In that interview she said it was nice to see the volunteers and people hard at work at the center, “It’s heartbreaking but also shows the spirit of people.”

While backstage with Cher this time, Custer asked Cher if she would sign his custom shirt he made for the occasion showing off his Flint pride. The shirt featured a cartoon character drawing of the singer that he replicated inside a heart with the word “FLINT” in black sparkly lettering above it.

“I made these shirts and thought if we don’t get to meet her at least she will see some love from Flint in the audience,” he said.

Custer took his beloved signed shirt and used it to raise money to benefit the children impacted by the Flint water crisis. He personally teamed up with the "Flint Health & Child Development Fund" and set up an online auction with 100 percent of the money raised benefiting the foundation.

“We are grateful to David for auctioning off a shirt that means so much to him,” said Ann Marie Van Duyne, vice president of Philanthropic Services. “We continue to be inspired by donors like David who are truly making a difference in the lives of our children.”

The Flint Child Health & Development Fund was created to provide long-term response to the water crisis. The money raised provides optimal child health and development, early childhood education, continuous access to a pediatric medical home, nutrition education and healthy food access.

“This Fund will further ensure that our children are afforded the resources and interventions to overcome this population-wide exposure to lead," said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, with Hurley Medical Center and founding donor of the Flint Child Health & Development Fund.

Custer was happy to donate the shirt.

 “I hope my little homemade shirt with Cher’s autograph will give someone as much joy as this entire experience did me and most importantly raise a lot of money for Flint children,” he said.

The shirt was auctioned off on eBay for ten days and sold to a woman in Germany for $255.

"I am so happy he donated this treasure and I could help a little from across the ocean," said Daniela Flaschka.

Flaschka thanked Custer in an Instagram post and says she is a huge fan of Cher.

Custer and his fiance, Dan Buccilli, delivered the check to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint on Sept. 26 for the full amount of the auction.

"We believe thoughtful generosity like this is the lever that will ignite others to continue pushing to meet unmet needs in our hometown," said Community Foundation of Greater Flint President Isiah Oliver.

You can learn more about the Flint Child & Health Development Fund at: FlintKids.com.

Custer was born in Flint, attended college at the University of Michigan-Flint and has lived in the city during the crisis for a year and a half. He’s been working as a news anchor covering his hometown at WNEM-TV5 since October 2013.

(WNEM is not affiliated with the process, auction or donation being made by David Custer.)

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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