COLORADO SPRINGS. For St. Mary’s High School, what started off as a challenge has turned into a tremendous opportunity. In 2020, the school’s Gala Committee had four weeks to move its annual live event online when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live events. With social distancing requirements still firmly in place in 2021, the Gala Committee planned this year’s event, which was held on April 10, to be virtual, and what resulted was the most successful gala in the school’s history.
“While we had the benefit of planning a virtual event this year, versus last year, we still weren’t sure what to expect,” said Raquel Krasovec, St. Mary’s events director. “When we saw the final numbers, we were overwhelmed. The generosity of our community is unmatched.”
The 2021 gala overall raised $239,000, setting a record for the event. This record-breaking total does not include an additional $100,000 in matching scholarship funds provided by an anonymous donor. This year’s Gift from the Heart appeal raised $168,000, also a new record. The Gift from the Heart funds will be split between tuition assistance and St. Mary’s Catholic Education Foundation. The school is committing $75,000 to tuition assistance and the remaining $93,000 will be invested into the endowed Tom & May Kelly Scholarship Fund to support deserving students now and in the future.
“Our community is what makes St. Mary’s the special place that it is,” said Deacon Rob Rysavy, president of St. Mary’s High School. “The generosity of our supporters is making a St. Mary’s education available to more families. St. Mary’s High School truly could not fulfill our mission — to educate students in the Catholic tradition to be responsible, moral, critical thinkers and leaders well prepared for college and life — without your support.”
Rysavy served as master of ceremonies for this year’s event, which included dinner boxes so families could gather in smaller groups for in-home celebrations. An hour-and-a-half YouTube livestream of the live auction featured auctioneer “Pistol” Pete Husak and special guests Father Joe Dygert, Principal Mike Biondini ‘66, and senior Victoria Aguilar singing the National Anthem.
The two years of experience gained in virtual events will be applied to coming events, Krasovec said. The silent auction will continue to open on Monday via the GiveSmart app, as it has the last two years. The Gala Committee also plans to include a virtual component as part of the in-person galas in the future.
“It has been wonderful to engage with alumni and supporters who don’t live in the Colorado Springs area,” Krasovec said. “Continuing to have a virtual component of the live events will allow those distant supporters to be a part of the event too.”
The Gala Committee would like to thank all who helped make the event a success, including platinum sponsor the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Bishop Sheridan and our generous anonymous donor.
And congratulations to this year’s raffle winners: Ken and Mary Baumel, first prize; Deacon Dave and Kathy Bull, second prize; and Steve and Cristina Priddy, third prize.
(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)