The ritziest bash of the year, Party on the Plaza: Roaring 20’s, was a smashing success with a grand total of $202,747 raised for student financial aid on Sept. 30 at Newman University.
According to Director of Annual Giving Laura Hartley, the 2023 funds surpass last year’s fundraising efforts by more than $35,700. It also marks the highest dollar amount raised at Party on the Plaza in the last eight years at Newman.
With 480 guests in attendance, Bob Beumer, vice president of institutional advancement, was left nearly speechless after the event’s success.
“What a great evening,” he said. “This is one of our largest crowds, even pre-pandemic. The energy, enthusiasm and amount of money we raise to support students to student scholarships at Newman is just tremendous. We couldn’t be happier.”
Guests wore their best flapper dresses, feathers and caps to gather for a night of fantastic food, prohibition-inspired cocktails, a caricature artist, crochet, an old-timey photo booth, as well as exclusive silent and live auction items.
The Newman troubadours, directed by Music Director Deanne Zogleman and accompanied by pianist Carole Pracht, performed songs in colorful costumes made by adjunct Christy Railsback. Their musical performance was followed by the cheer and dance team’s lively routine to the tune of Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.”
Newman Events Coordinator Abbi Timmermeyer explained, “This event is 100% for the students. We live, breathe and work tirelessly to raise money for our students because they are what bring us all together.”
The event was made possible by generous VIP sponsors Dale Withers and David and Glenna Borho, as well as presenting sponsors and event sponsors. Timmermeyer also credits the “amazing team” behind her for the turnout.
“This is just a collective spark of energy for all of our fundraising for the rest of the year,” President Kathleen Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, said of her third Party on the Plaza. “It gets us excited to raise money for the students as we see them take part in the evening as servers, cleanup crew and performers. … Everybody adds to the fun.”
A ‘full-circle’ fundraising event
First-year student Bryce Kegley, an ASC Service Award scholar, jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for Party on the Plaza because it was a chance to give back to the donors who gave to him.
“I’m not sure I could put into words how much I’m grateful for those people who allowed me to be here today,” Kegley said. “They’re a really big part of why I’m able to attend Newman and it’s completely changed my life.”
Robert Feeney, who works as a software developer, wholeheartedly believes that every person has a desire to give. It’s events like Party on the Plaza that “bring it out of us.”
“I think it’s really important for people to get together and get behind a common cause,” Feeney said. “I believe one of the best things you can do is invest in helping people through a framework where God is working with us.”
As a recipient of both an academic and athletic scholarship, Kegley added, “Without giving back, you’re missing out on what you could be giving to others. To allow even one student to further their education and create a successful career for themselves, I think that means the world.”
Attendees generously showed their support by bidding on silent auction items and live auction packages for getaway trips, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and even collectors-edition bourbon. More than $65,000 was raised through the live auction alone. One hundred $100 golden tickets were sold out within the first few hours of the event and one lucky guest won a live auction item of their choice — dinner with Bishop Carl A. Kemme of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
JT Klaus ‘87 wrapped up his 13th and final Party on the Plaza as emcee. He was surprised and “almost” brought to tears when a surprise tribute video was played as a thank-you for his service as the voice of Party on the Plaza. He was also gifted a bobblehead of himself dressed in lederhosen from the past Oktoberfest theme.
“I’ve had the privilege to help raise millions of dollars for Newman through this event and it’s been fun,” Klaus said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re not getting the proper thank you, but tonight I was just dumbfounded. That was terrific.”
A highlight of the night was when Klaus auctioned off a “priceless” bourbon basket for $16,000.
“I know not everyone can bid $16,000 on a bottle of bourbon, but it’s okay,” he said. “There’s fun for everybody.”
The sparkly tennis shoes of Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, — a “Newman giant” who stands at less than 5 feet tall — auctioned off for a pretty penny at $7,500. Roths shared a special moment on stage with fellow past president Noreen Carrocci, Ph.D., interim past president Teresa Hall Bartels and current president Jagger, each of whom also wore sparkly shoes.
“I think that was such a special piece of the night,” Jagger said. “It was a real appreciation for Sister Tarcisia and for Newman.”
A reason to return home
Newman’s biggest fundraiser of the year also holds a special place in the hearts of numerous alumni.
Alumna Christine Siefers ‘91, who works for a software company, has attended “at least a dozen” Party on the Plaza events over the years. Her favorite aspect of being a student is the same thing that brings her back every year — “the people.”
“The reason I came here is because my mom fell in love with it,” Siefers said. “The people we met that first visit made it totally worth it. I benefited from scholarships and if I hadn’t had some financial aid, I never would have been able to attend Kansas Newman College. And it was the best education. Why wouldn’t I want to give back?”
Tom Davis ‘88 and David Whipple ‘89 have lost count of how many Party on the Plaza fundraisers they have attended. One thing they’ll never forget, though, is how much they loved their time as students at Newman University (then Kansas Newman College).
“What an experience,” Davis said. “We’re glad to support as much as we can to give the rest of these kids the same kind of amazing experience. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to continue at Newman but thanks to a residence assistant job, I got to stay. I met this guy (David Whipple) and all the friends of mine. This place is just amazing.”
Davis was surprised to win $500 after his name was randomly drawn by Klaus.
“They say ‘give and don’t expect to receive,’ but I did receive!” he said with a shout and a laugh.
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