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February 7, 2018

Avila University Steer Dinner and Auction Raises More Than $1 Million for Student Scholarships

Steer Chairs

(February 7, 2018) KANSAS CITY, MO – For the third year in a row, more than $1 million was raised at Avila’s 42nd annual Steer Dinner and Auction. First held in 1977, this year’s event took place on February 3rd at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown Muehlebach Tower.

Honorary chairs DJ and Ann O’Hare, the Roderick J. and Jo Anne Cyr Foundation and event chairs Rodd and Martha ’66 Staker led the event. They joined Avila President Ron Sleptiza, Ph.D., CSJA, and more than 660 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students to raise money for Avila students.

In keeping with Steer Dinner tradition, the annual S.O.L.D. Fund started the live fundraising portion of the program.  S.O.L.D. is named in honor of S. Olive Louise Dallavis, CSJ, president emerita and founder of the Steer Dinner and Auction.

“S. Olive Louise had a tremendous influence on my life,” said Martha Staker. “She and the Sisters of St. Joseph taught me from a young age, through graduation at Avila, life lessons that I continue to use today.”

By night’s end, donations totaled in excess of $1.02 million benefitting Avila University scholarships

“The theme for the evening is Dreams Fulfilled, Promises Honored,” said President Slepitza. “These scholarships fulfill our students’ dreams of obtaining a college education. Each of our donors have been faithful advocates for Avila, and I’m most grateful.”

The event’s keynote speaker was Avila student and Jeanne H. Olofson scholarship recipient Emmaline Cochrane. “Being independent is hard,” Cochrane said. “I was 17-years-old and homeless, but I graduated at the top of my class in high school, received an associate’s degree from Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, and transferred to Avila. I instantly fell in love. There is no other place I would like to call home than Avila.”

In 1977, the Steer Dinner was started with the gift of an American Royal Grand Champion steer. It was donated by several area businessmen to S. Olive Louise. She organized the event to turn the gift into cash. That first dinner was held in the campus cafeteria and it raised just over $12,000. Since then, alumni, family and friends have contributed more than $12 million in scholarship money, assuring that 98% of Avila undergraduate students receive financial assistance.



Avila University, a Catholic University founded and inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, provides undergraduate and graduate education in the liberal arts and professional studies, preparing lifelong learners who make meaningful contributions to the global community.





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