The 2014 Friends of Kuemper Ball chaircouples cheer the record success, as the campaign generated $614,741 for Kuemper Catholic School System.
The 2014 Friends of Kuemper Ball chaircouples cheer the record success, as the campaign generated $614,741 for Kuemper Catholic School System.
May 5, 2014

The numbers kept rolling to larger and larger.

The crowd's excitement grew. Cheers turned louder and louder as the amounts rolled past $400,000, $500,000, $550,000, $600,000, crescendoing at the grand total - $614,741.

The 30th annual Friends of Kuemper Ball - celebrating Saturday night at the Carrollton Centre to the theme "A Grand Kuemper Ball" - hit a grand slam with a record campaign, smashing last year's mark of $552,461.

The 2014 campaign chaircouples - Jair and Julie Mayhall, Chase and Janelle Schreck, Dr. Mike and Pat Soppe, and Brent and Cindy Tiefenthaler - were reacting as enthusiastically as everyone else in the packed ballroom as the numbers show took place on a video screen next to the stage.

"We thought it would be kind of fun to pattern it after the national-debt clock," Jair Mayhall said in an interview Sunday morning. "We thought it would be fun as it rolled over certain numbers - $500,000, $550,000, and especially at $600,000, people started to get pretty excited."

How was the record accomplished?

"It's the donors, the Kuemper family, all the volunteers and all the past Ball chairs," Jair Mayhall said. "It takes a lot of effort to go out there and raise that kind of money. Without everyone helping and everyone contributing we definitely wouldn't have gotten there."

Mayhall cited a solid economic climate in the community combined with strong school pride stemming from successes in sports - Class 2A state football championship and Class 3A state volleyball runner-up - and many other activities and departments in Kuemper.

"The economy is picking up and things are a little better," Mayhall said. "Not everyone is directly ag-related, but we're all dependent on it a little. The farm economy maybe is not as great as it was a couple of years ago, but it's still doing very well. And a lot of people were very generous with regard to that."

In his comments leading off the program at the Ball, Kuemper president Vern Henkenius said this has been a one-of-a-kind year for the school system.

"There are a lot of positive things going on right now, and that helps." Mayhall said.

Henkenius said Sunday of this being a special year, "Kuemper has seen several once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. They are the completion of a feasibility study (for renovations and construction) and the kickoff of a (Kuemper Tomorrow) capital campaign that has a Celebration Goal of $4,630,000 and a Jubilation Goal of $6,500,000; a miracle finish where a state football championship is won when a field-goal attempt hits the cross bar and bounces over for a 3-point win; and the record-setting Friends of Kuemper Ball."

Pledges in Kuemper Tomorrow stand at $3.9 million, and "work on the campaign continues daily," Henkenius said.

"We had some things working for us and some things working against us," Mayhall observed. "The feeling around Kuemper with the capital campaign going on made it a little better because everyone said, 'OK, we're focusing on improving the school.' And some of the sports teams this year have generated good will and good feeling toward the school. But the capital campaign was a little bit challenging, too, because it's hard to go to the same folks and ask (donations) from one side and the other."

The chaircouples jump started the campaign last fall with a 30 Acres for 30 Years of the Kuemper Ball effort, asking at least 30 farmers to donate profit from 1 acre of corn or soybeans from the 2013 harvest. With 32 acres enlisted, that generated over $30,000.

Another new feature was a sealed-bid auction for vacation at a luxury resort on the Pacific coast in Mexico. That was provided by Tony and Teresa Feldmann.

The Ball's vehicle, ag and regular raffles again proved to be highly popular.

A record 842 vehicle-raffle tickets were sold, topping the previous record of 839 in 2012 and last year's 783. The ag raffle sold 901 tickets, down from 921 last year, the first year for that raffle. The regular raffle sold 5,761 tickets, down from 5,915 last year.

The campaign received gifts from nearly 80 more donors than last year, 3,552 in 2014, compared with approximately 3,474 last year.

Henkenius said in his comments Sunday, "The Kuemper community working on the Ball did a tremendous job. It all begins with Sharon Olerich, who is our Alumni and Special Projects director, and continues with the co-chairs, Jair and Julie Mayhall, Chase and Janelle Schreck, Brent and Cindy Tiefenthaler, and Dr. Mike and Pat Soppe, as well as all the committee members and general volunteers. There are just too many people to mention. The revenue generated is very important, but more important is the opportunity for the Kuemper family to work together on a major project culminating in a special evening at the Ball. The first Saturday in May has turned into being the largest social gathering in Carroll for the year. It is without question the largest single revenue producer during the year for all Catholic PK-12 schools in the Sioux City Diocese."

Olerich commented "Celebrating a 30th anniversary is so exciting and memorable. The '30 Years of the Grand Kuemper Ball' theme has been so much fun - a true celebration in honor of the past 30 years of this fabulous tradition."

She added, "The chaircouples have been so enthusiastic in organizing this project for the past months and truly amazing. They began last fall with a new idea of the 30 Acres for the 30th Ball by contacting several farmers to donate an acre of crops for the 30th Ball. This generated over $30,000. What a fantastic kickoff to the project.

"I cherish the privilege of working with so many wonderful chairpersons over the years and getting to know them personally as we work together for our students. I am so excited the chaircouples reached their goal with the help of thousands of individuals. It was so amazing to see so many Friends of Kuemper at the Ball including alumni from as far as North Carolina home for the Ball.

"What is also amazing to me is raising over $600,000 from approximately 3,500 donors in a three-month timeframe - roughly 90 days - with a kickoff on Feb. 1 until May 4. We are thankful for the generosity of the entire Kuemper family and the Carroll community. Whether it was a raffle prize, monetary gift, or donation of some type of service, every donation is valued and greatly appreciated."

Over the last 30 years, the Ball now has grossed approximately $7.69 million. With expenses at approximately $50,000 a year, this year's campaign will net nearly $564,000, bringing net total to Kuemper the last 30 years to more than $6.74 million.

Mayhall said, "With private schools it's a challenge every year trying to raise education standards, keep up with expenses, keep tuition flat or hold it to small increases, and do everything you want to do with capital improvements, technology and everything else. Hopefully the amount we raised can significantly benefit that."

In his letter for this year's Ball kickoff, Henkenius said, "Ball funds are used for tuition assistance and to support teacher pay. As the school system moves toward a systematic and well-planned one-to-one technology initiative, appropriate financing is necessary. Ball funds will be added to the technology funds flowing from the KCSS Kuemper Tomorrow Capital Campaign. Marketing the Kuemper Catholic School System is a constant goal. The ability to provide dependable transportation services to our students and staff was enhanced through the purchase of a new 65-passenger bus. It is critical that educational buildings be kept in a good state of repair, and Ball funds support these efforts. A new, updated religion curriculum in grades K-8 was put in place in recent years and is now being introduced in the high school. Promoting the religion curriculum has and will be a major thrust of Friends of Kuemper Ball funding."

Mayhall said he believes the chaircouples made a good team.

"We all enjoyed working really hard, and we worked really well together," he said. "All of us brought a different skill set to the table, and I think that helped immensely."

Next year's chaircouples - introduced at the Ball Saturday night - will be Ron and Tasha Badding, Drs. John and Beth Evans, Doug and Tena Gifford, and Larry and Laurie Mohr.

"I think they're a little apprehensive, but they're excited too," Mayhall said of the 2015 chaircouples.

His advice to them: "Just have faith in the Kuemper community and work hard at it."