MNU President’s Honors nearly a sellout

MNU's President's Honors fund-raising event in 2012. MNU website photo

MNU’s President’s Honors fund-raising event in 2012. MNU website photo

For any of you wait-until-the-last-minute people wanting to attend tonight’s (Friday, April 12) 2nd Annual President’s Honors event at MidAmerica Nazarene University, well, you might have waited too long.

According to MNU spokesperson April Hansen, director of development for annual programs, tonight’s fund-raising event, which begins at 6:30 in the school’s gymnasium, is nearly sold out. Funds raised during the event, which includes silent and live auctions, are used to provide unrestricted scholarships to MNU students.

“Right now,” she said, “we have around 490 people attending and the event will seat just 515. Last year we had about 505 and we’re expecting around that many this year, so yeah, it’s near capacity right now.”

Hansen said if there still are people wanting to attend, it will be best to call 913-971-3605 to see if there is any seating left.

Highlighting tonight’s event will be the honoring of Dr. Ray and Elaine Cook, Wichita, with MNU’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Ray Cook, who died last fall, was a long-time chair for MNU’s Board of Trustees. The Cooks also have been significant donors to the university, Hansen said. MNU’s Cook Center is named in their honor because of their financial support to the university.

After raising $303,000 in last year’s debut event, MNU set a goal to raise $350,00o this year.

“Right now, we’ve already received $329,450 and we haven’t even had the auctions yet,” Hansen said. “We’re almost at our goal through sponsorship and ticket sales, and all of that goes into student scholarships that are not funded by an endowment or anything like that.”

Some 90 items will be up for bid when the silent auction begins at 6:30. Once the dinner begins at about 7:30, guests will be treated to entertainment by MNU students that includes vocal and instrumental soloists as well as a performance by the MNU choir.

“And we’ll have live auction segments interspersed throughout the evening selling things like the opportunity to name the original circle drive on campus in honor of someone; we’ll have jewelry, hunting trips and things like that,” Hansen said.

Doing the live auction will be Kevin Borger, assistant to the president for church relations at MNU. Borger also is a professional auctioneer who does auctions for charities throughout the year.

“He’s a master at building the excitement and getting people energized to buy an item or give money for a scholarship,” Hansen said.

Some high-end items in the live auction includes a signed Thomas Kinkade print valued at $15,000. Hansen another item, which was a “big seller” last year is a two-day hunting trip at the Flint Hills Lodge, a private hunting club in southeast Kansas.

“It was very popular last year,” she said. “But the biggest funding auction item we have is the President Scholarship Challenge. At the end of the evening, that’s an opportunity for people to fund a scholarship. It starts high and last year we had bid paddles raised all over the room; folks bidding anywhere from $5,000 or more; some people say they can commit $100.

“It’s really a chance for everyone in the room to participate at some level to say they’re going to support scholarships.”

Last year, the Challenge raised more than $40,000.

The gym will be elaborately decorated for the event and the food will be prepared on-site by Pioneer College Caterers, which is the MNU food service company. Hansen said to prepare the food, a team is gathered from people all across the country.

“With the event being held in the basketball arena, they have to bring in a lot of extra special equipment,” she said. “Student volunteers will be servers and it’s a good opportunity for guests to put a face with what they are supporting.”

But if people are unable to make the event because of a prior commitment, or if they waited too long to purchase their ticket, they still can participate by going to MNU’s website and give a donation online.

“There’s a link there that says give online and people should designate they want their money to go to the Presidential Honors Scholarship,” Hansen said.

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