APU hosted its 66th annual Dinner Rally to fundraise for student scholarships on Friday, Oct. 28. This is the largest fundraising event at APU, as last year’s total funds were $1.2 million.
The university symphony performed to open the event, conducted by Christopher Russel and assisted by APU alumni singers Jon and Deanna Ramsay. The couple has been singing together for around 20 years since being part of the music program during their time at APU and getting married.
The host for the evening, Chair and Assistant Professor of the Department of Leadership and Organizational Psychology Edgar Baron, Ed.D., asked Deanna to share what it was like for her being back at APU.
“It’s incredible to go back and walk through memory lane and remember where we met in a transforming season of our lives,” Ramsay said.
There were 99 tables at the event, most of which were seated to capacity. Preceding the dinner, there were two different receptions: the main reception on Kresge Plaza with appetizers and drinks following check in, and the President’s Reception, which took place in the Duke Academic Complex main hallway. This reception was accompanied by student servers passing drinks to the attendees.
During Dinner Rally, Student Government Association (SGA) President Cole Mizel led the event in a word of prayer. Once the food was served, a short video played statements and thank-you’s from 2016 graduates, telling the attendees what their time has been like at APU and how their donations have helped them in their journey.
Following dinner, the university choirs were dispersed throughout the room to begin singing before setting up on stage to perform throughout the rest of the evening.
Sophomore acting major Noah Castillero attended the event to observe and watch his girlfriend perform in the choir.
“I’m enjoying Dinner Rally so much,” Castillero said. “I’m excited because the choirs are all amazing.”
For the remainder of the evening, there were various videos displayed on screen to promote different organizations and programs on campus to show the donors ways in which their money can help improve APU.
The first video played was a Ride for Water promotional and informational video. The video touched on the mission behind RFW as well as details of the past teams’ trips. Fadi Nassar and Katie Maginnis represented RFW at the event, and Nassar talked about the struggle of the cross-country bike ride and how it ties into what Ride for Water is about.
“You jump on your bike, you put your feet on it and you start going,” Nassar said. “Every day we would wake up and say ‘it’s not about us.’ If it was, I wouldn’t ride this bike.”
Maginnis explained the motivation and challenges in putting together a women’s team for the first time last year.
“To get a women’s team involved was more than the exercise. It was our love for people, our love for women…for the women that travel miles and miles to provide water for their families,” Maginnis said.
Nassar and Maginnis informed the attendees that $73,000 has been raised for RFW so far this year, and over the course of four years the teams have raised over $200,000.
A Life on Film video profiling Jerson Anzola, an Army veteran born and raised in Colombia, was shown next. He came to Azusa in 2004 to live with his aunt and attended Azusa High School. He was involved in the ROTC program and enlisted into the Army in 2009, but was medically retired after an accident overseas.
“APU was around my life since my high school days. It was my dream school. It was where I wanted to go,” Anzola said.
Following the video, Anzola and Tammy Oluvic, the Director of Military and Veteran Outreach and Enrollment Services gave information about the veterans program at APU.
The last video featured APU Alumna of the Year Juli Boit, class of 2001. Boit was a nursing student at APU who, after going on a summer trip to Kenya, felt called to continue her work there.
“I’ve been welcomed into a community with such rich hospitality, and they have been so gracious. I’ve learned a lot about the daily bread that we pray for in the Lord’s prayer and how it can be a literal prayer and how it can grow your faith,” Boit said. “I’ve been really blessed and privileged to live in Kenya for the last 12 years.”
To close out the evening, President Jon Wallace, DBA spoke about the importance of Dinner Rally. He shared an anecdote about how exactly one year ago on the night of the rally, he had just finished chemo therapy. While he wasn’t supposed to go anywhere, he snuck into Dinner Rally to see the attendees give to the university he loves so much. He asked the attendees to give a donation if they felt led, and he promised that APU “will keep producing people like Juli and others.”