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Kuemper Ball kicks off 37th-annual campaign

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Chaircouples leading the 2021 Friends of Kuemper Ball campaign are (from left) Gina and Tony Badding, Jon and Michelle Heim, Lisa and Nick Bowdish, and Susie and James Heiliger.

The 37th annual Friends of Kuemper Ball fundraising campaign for Kuemper Catholic School System kicked off last week unveiling the 2021 theme, “A Knight to Unite.”

Helping lead the kickoff meeting Wednesday night at Santa Maria Winery were the campaign’s chaircouples —Tony and Gina Badding, John and Michelle Heim, Nick and Lisa Bowdish, and James and Susie Heiliger.

Nick Bowdish told the Times Herald before the meeting, “The Ball has had so many leaders come before us and done exceptional things for the Kuemper School System, and it’s an honor to serve as a chair this year and continue that tradition. And we thought about a theme and really wanted to focus on our efforts to bring people together. It’s certainly been a year for most of our lifetimes coming off of 2020, and we’re very much looking forward to having a wonderful reason to bring people together.”

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Since 1985, Kuemper Ball campaigns have raised more than $11.3 million. Last year’s Ball generated $541,511, despite the coronavirus outbreak in the middle of the campaign.

With schools dealing with the COVID impact since last March, Kuemper President John Steffes said during the meeting, “I read the other day people have called this year the most difficult year for schools in modern history. That’s very true, but look how far we’ve come, and people like you who have supported Kuemper should be very proud of what you’ve done and being a part of this.”

Over the years, funds from the Ball have gone to the general operating fund, tuition assistance, technology, maintaining teacher pay and much more.

Bowdish said, “We’re very confident in our ability to have a great fundraising year again for Kuemper, which funds the mission of a strong Catholic education in our community. We’re just so grateful for everybody’s efforts.

“It’s truly an honor and a privilege to serve as a chair and take a leadership position in donating time to help raise funds to support the Catholic school system. All four chaircouples this year have children in Kuemper. We might be somewhat unique in that our group this year, all of our children are very much on the younger end of the spectrum in their education, so we’re eager to jump in and lend a hand. And pandemic or not, we’re having a great time and looking forward to helping out.”

Bowdish said he believes the campaign has hit the ground running.

A couple of popular features of past campaigns return — the vehicle and ag raffles. Tickets are $100 each for the vehicle raffle and $50 each for the ag raffle. The vehicle raffle winner will receive a $20,000 voucher, and participating dealerships are Champion Ford of Carroll, Macke Motors of Lake City, Motor Inn of Carroll, Team Auto of Denison, Wittrock Motors of Carroll and New Way Auto of Jefferson. The ag raffle winner will receive a $10,000 voucher, and participating dealerships are Haley Equipment, Rueter’s, Van Wall Equipment and Jet’s Outdoor Power, all of Carroll.

There will be a few change-ups this year. Instead of the general raffle and dueling pianos show, plans call for a silent auction on Saturday, March 27, at the Carrollton Centre, where the Patrick Lentz band from Kansas City will perform.

“I encourage the community to mark the calendar for March 27,” Bowdish said. “That band is phenomenal, and we’ll have a venue put together at the Carrollton that is in line with state guidelines. I think people will find out we’ve locked down an incredible group.”

The Ball will be Saturday, May 1, at the Kuemper Field House, and plans call for an in-person event that follows state health guidelines. The pandemic forced switch to a virtual Ball last May.

Considering COVID concerns, plans now call for a drive-thru meal option at the Ball. Meal tickets are $45 per person.

Kuemper Annual Giving and Alumni Director Cindy Lawler coordinates the Ball and may be contacted at 792-2212.

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