Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This was clear as a record-breaking, at capacity crowd of over 400 friends, family, community partners and supporters filled the St. Marcus campus at the 2012 Annual Benefit Gala.
On Saturday, November 10th excitement, energy and COURAGE permeated the air. With Phase II of the campus expansion project being constructed next door, guests enjoyed an evening of delicious food, catered and sponsored by The Bartolotta Restaurant Group, friendships and auction bidding hosted by a new Chicago based auctioneer, Vinnie Zaffarano.
The remarkable evening was enhanced with words from St. Marcus’ Superintendent, Henry Tyson along with a moving video and student performances. The video portrayed the daily life of an 8th grade student and her 2nd grade sister. Their days start at 6:30 am with a 45-minute bus ride to school. The song Courageous served as background music and was performed by St. Marcus’ Junior Choir and followed by the St. Marcus hip hop dancers, performing to the song, Dive. The music and performances spoke to the need for COURAGE, whether it be the students courage to get up every day and fight through a difficult world or our courage to provide hope and purpose to over 675 students, continuing to lead the way in Milwaukee’s school reform movement.
With over $13,000,000 raised towards the campus expansion project, an easy solution for the evening would have been to invite guests to help raise the $500,000 that has not been secured to complete the capital campaign. Yet, guests turned their attention to the greatest struggle that St. Marcus faces and the greatest inhibitor to future growth—a student funding gap. The voucher amount for each St. Marcus student is under $6,500. This amount has been frozen for five years. Actual spending is $7,800 per child, resulting in a funding gap of $1,300 per student. Guests were asked to DIVE in and help resolve the funding gap for as many students as possible.
Over 400 guests understood the enormity of this task. Their generosity led to a total of $430,000 raised for the future of St. Marcus School, which was generously matched with $100,000. As Joe and Jennifer Bartolotta were being thanked and recognized, they also DOVE in for another three years as in-kind sponsors!
We have been overjoyed by the amount of support we have received from the friends of St. Marcus, and the investment in the futures of the children we serve. These funds will directly serve our students by giving more children hope and purpose, and will continue to transform the educational, social, and economic landscape throughout our city. St. Marcus is able to dive in, act courageously, teach children and end this local and national tragedy. Because of the hard won dollars that guests invested, St. Marcus has become one of the highest performing schools in the City of Milwaukee. Because of their commitment, they have helped St. Marcus become a beacon of light in our community.
On behalf of the students at St. Marcus, THANK YOU! Thanks to those who became a HERO, helping our students walk out of the darkness and into HIS light.
We look forward to seeing you next year on November 9th, 2013!