Another Record Night!

Benedictine’s Scholarship Ball Sets Attendance and Sponsorship Records

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Jack '70 and Kathy Newman

The 51st Annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball showed how a Top 10 fundraising event in the Kansas City area just keeps getting better. Another record crowd of more than 1,000 gathered in the ballroom at the Overland Park Convention Center for a night that featured dinner, cocktails, moving videos, a highly produced program, the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict award, and dancing to the musical talents of The Coda. The event, co-chaired by Kevin and Colleen “Cocoa” O’Malley and Lené Westerman, exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“We eclipsed last year’s records for attendance and sponsorships,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “And the Fund-A-Raven once again showed a tremendous outpouring of generosity!” 

This year, the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict went to Jack ’70 and Kathy Newman. The College established the award in 1969 to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence. The Newmans are prime examples of just the kind of engagement the award committee looks for in honorees. Their introductory video and acceptance speeches can be viewed on the Scholarship Ball website.

The Ball also featured speeches by the president and by a student. This year, senior Solomon Wallace spoke about his journey from homelessness to a Benedictine College graduate who has already accepted a position at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His introductory video received a standing ovation and he saw three more standing ovations during his speech. Unprecedented emotion filled the room! (See the introductory video and his full speech here.)

“And now today, I think about the wonderful friends I have made, the great people I have met, and the outstanding community I have been privileged to be a part of and how none of them would be here without your generosity,” Wallace said. “Because of your kindness and giving hearts, you have genuinely helped change my life and the lives of thousands of others in our Raven family. I am living what was once a dream, and now is reality thanks to you.”

President Minnis reported on the State of the College and touched on some of the success from the last year. He mentioned the first ever visit by a foreign head of state when President Katalin Novak of Hungary came to Atchison. He also talked about the agreement with Catholic Healthcare International for the construction of a new school of osteopathic medicine on campus. And referencing “forward, always forward,” he showed a video animation of the proposed new College Library and spoke of how the college would continue to move forward with the new vision to Transform Culture in America. (See the full speech and animation here.)

“Benedictine College has never been stronger, and the future has never looked brighter,” Minnis said. “We are at the dawn of a new age—a new Benedictine College that embraces the things of the past with a new vision for the future.”

The Fund-A-Raven portion of the Ball was again hosted by junior Liza Trettel and senior Reed Levi, the first time the student auctioneers have ever returned for a second event. Their efforts saw an overwhelming response with 10 people giving at the $25,000 level and excitement continuing to the end. Their performance, coupled with the moving story of Solomon Wallace, inspired a $500,000 surprise donation to the Fund-A-Raven.

The event wrapped up with dancing to live music by The Coda, which featured members of the longtime Scholarship Ball entertainers, the Michael Beers Band, which disbanded after last year's Ball.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is honored to have been named the best private college in Kansas by the Wall Street Journal, one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  Benedictine College has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.