The 2024 Scholarship Ball in the ballroom of the Overland Park Convention Center.

Record Crowd for a Sold-Out Benedictine College Scholarship Ball!

A big night of fundraising for Student Scholarships

For the first time in history, the Benedictine College Scholarship Ball, already a Top 10 fundraising event in the Kansas City area, completely sold out every seat in the room. A record crowd of more than 1,000 gathered in the ballroom at the Overland Park Convention Center for a night that featured Mass, a cocktail reception, dinner, a highly produced program complete with music, fun graphics and some very moving videos, and it all wrapped up with music from the popular dance band, The Coda. This year, the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict went to Kevin ’79, G ’97 and Colleen McGraw ’81 O’Malley. The event, co-chaired by Patrick ’94 and Kate McClard ’93 Carr and Lené Westerman ’85, exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“The Fund-A-Raven showed a tremendous outpouring of generosity and our sponsorships eclipsed last year’s record,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “To have sold out the seating really demonstrates how popular the event has become both within the Benedictine community and the community at large.”

Kevin and Colleen O’Malley were moved to tears by their introductory video and both gave tremendous testimonials for Benedictine College in their Cross of the Order of St. Benedict acceptance speeches. 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 O’Malleys 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 architecture major Sarah Rodriguez talked about her family’s history of fleeing the communist regime in Cuba and coming to the United States with little money and high hopes. She spoke about how her parents had to put their dreams aside to work to support the family. When she graduates in May, she will be the first in her family to earn a college degree and has already accepted a job with an architectural firm, pursuing a career as an architect that her father had dreamed of. (See the introductory video and her full speech here.)

“As a college graduate, I hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams, and demonstrate that with hard work and faith in God, anything is possible,” she said. “I ask that you make a donation, not to support college students, but rather to support the future leaders of our communities and country. Your donation will support a future of young individuals who will be equipped to go into the world and transform the culture in America!”

President Minnis reported on the State of the College and touched on some of the success from the last year. He mentioned record enrollment, the construction of several new residence halls, and the reconsecration of the college. Looking into the future, he talked about the new 58,000 square foot library currently under construction.

“The library will be one of the most significant new buildings on our campus,” he said. “It will not only demonstrate a commitment to academic excellence, but it will also be a beacon of hope in the region and across the country.”

President Minnis also talked about the agreement with Catholic Healthcare International and progress toward the establishment of a new medical school on campus, the proposed St. Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering, School of Osteopathic Medicine. (See the full speech  here.)

“Benedictine College has an opportunity to transform the culture with a new medical school which will provide excellent medical education, informed by the wisdom of the Catholic Church, and will support the vocations of faithful Catholic/Christian medical students as Healers,” Minnis said. “The Padre Pio Medical School will be the most pro-life medical school in the country where physicians will be taught about the dignity and worth of every human being and will form and protect the consciences of America’s Catholic doctors for decades to come.”

“With enrollment increases, new buildings, increased academic reputation, a commitment to service, as well as new programs like the medical school it is clear that we have never been more ready to go ‘Forward, Always Forward, Everywhere Forward.’” Minnis concluded. “At a moment in history when the culture is broken and needs to be transformed, it is (Benedictine) Ravens who will step up to be the change the country needs.”

The Fund-A-Raven portion of the Ball was hosted by two Benedictine seniors, Anna Ketelle and J. P. Buss. Their efforts saw an overwhelming response with 12 people giving at the highest level of $25,000, meaning a $300,000 challenge match was reached at the very first level. Including the match, nearly $900,000 in Fund-A-Raven donations were received in the room that night, with more coming in through online giving.

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.

Benedictine College

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 one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, 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 is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.