Silent No More: Lead gift starts new bell-ringing tradition

July 10, 2013

Steve Sauder and his wife, Bobbi, talk with Emporia State football coach Garin Higgins and baseball coach Bob Fornelli at Sauder Alumni Center at Emporia State University on July 10. The couple presented a check for more than $600,000 toward the campaign. Steve Sauder is Champion for Athletics of the Now and Forever campaign and announced that more than 50 percent of the working goal of $5.65 million for Hornet Athletics has been raised.

The limestone-faced bell tower known as “Silent Joe” is taking on a new role in Emporia State University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign. Rung in the past after the football team scores a victory, the bell in the tower at the southeast corner of Welch Stadium is becoming an audible icon for success as part of “Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University.”

Students rang the bell Wednesday, July 10, to announce a leadership gift to Hornet Athletics and to celebrate a milestone in the athletic fundraising efforts of the Creating Champions committee, one facet of Emporia State’s Now & Forever campaign. 

To date, the committee has raised more than 50 percent of its working goal of $5.65 million for Hornet Athletics. Creating Champions supports Emporia State’s athletic programs with scholarships, room and board, career development, recruitment, team travel and sport enhancements.

“This is truly a team effort,” said DenaSue Potestio, Emporia State Foundation President/CEO. “I’m excited about the spirit, pride and camaraderie that’s building in our Hornet Nation as we engage alumni across the globe to build the strength and vitality of their alma mater.”

The Foundation also recognized an Emporia couple’s major gift to the athletic program. Bobbi and Steve Sauder are making a gift in excess of $600,000 to the Now and Forever Campaign.

Included in the gift is $500,000 for the Earl W. Sauder Student Athletic Scholarship Program created in 2006 by Steve’s father, Earl. Additional gifts will support Hornet football, baseball and women’s basketball programs, and maintain the family’s booth in the Hutchinson Family Pavilion at Welch Stadium.

“Steve’s generous gift will honor his father and make considerably more money available for student-athlete scholarships through the program Mr. Earl Sauder started,” said Potestio, indicating that the fund will now be awarding $125,000 in scholarships to student-athletes each year.

Steve Sauder is the Now & Forever campaign’s Champion for Athletics, a role in which he leads fundraising for Emporia State’s athletics programs. The vision goal for Hornet Athletics is $9 million in private gifts and grants.

“With Steve’s leadership I know this is possible,” said Potestio.

“I’m pretty invested in the future of this community, and I understand that Emporia State University and the city of Emporia are joined at the hip,” Steve Sauder said in an earlier interview. The owner of Emporia’s Radio Stations, Inc., he serves on the Emporia State University Foundation Board of Trustees in addition to involvement in numerous community activities.

“Steve has done a fantastic job as our Champion for Athletics,” said Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, president of Emporia State University. “Our student-athletes are champions in the classroom. Steve’s work helps us continue to grow the University and make it even more successful.”

Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million. To date, the campaign has recorded gifts and pledges of $12.7 million to support student scholarships, academic departments and initiatives that advance Emporia State’s mission to recruit students, teach and retain them, encourage them to graduate with lower levels of student debt, and ultimately put them on a path to a solid career.

For more information about opportunities to give to the Now & Forever campaign, contact DenaSue Potestio at 620-341-5440.

Watch the celebration unfold at Sauder Alumni Center. 

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