The Bellevue College Foundation celebrated its biggest event of the year on Wednesday, April 25, with its 13th Annual “Become Exceptional” Luncheon. Held at the Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue, this fundraiser provides academic and need-based scholarships to BC students each year. The money raised also goes into developing educational programs for the students.
This year, the Foundation raised nearly $280,000 at the luncheon. Thirty businesses in the community volunteered to support the event, thus saving every dollar for BC students. Over 700 guests attended.
“The luncheon is our biggest event,” said Megan Elmer, one of the Foundation’s organizers for this event. “We’re currently at $278,000, and still counting! All the money goes to Bellevue College and its students,” Elmer continued.
Kara Talbott, co-organizer of the event with Elmer, added, “It [the money] goes for a variety of things, from educational programs to scholarships to printing posters for the drama department…it all stays here.” One example of the Foundation’s contributions includes the purchase of a Virtual Environment Radiation Therapy machine for students getting a radiology certificate. There are only three of these machines in the country.
In the last few years, all colleges have been suffering from decreased state funding. The Foundation tries to make up some of the difference. “There are just some things that are not in the school’s budget that programs need money for,” said Elmer.
Students, organizations, and faculty can submit requests for BC Foundation funding – that is what decides the usage of the money gained from this event. “We don’t know what the requests will be this year,” said Elmer.
The money will be roughly divided between scholarships, educational programs, specific requests, emergency funding and Foundation operations. “It [the funding] is almost more responsive than it is proactive,” said Talbott.
This year’s keynote speaker was Ronan Farrow, the son of director Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow. At 24, Farrow is the special advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues, as well as the director of the State Department’s Global Youth Issues office.
“He was actually a college roommate of one of our board members,” Talbott, said.
Elmer added, “He talked about the empowerment of youth going forward in politics… which is also what we [the Foundation] believe.”
The organizers said that booking Farrow to speak was not the hard part – organizing everything in conjunction with his political position was. “We had to make sure we weren’t compromising him in any way,” said Talbott.
Prior to Farrow’s keynote address, five BC scholarship recipients also had the opportunity to deliver short speeches about their experience at BC. The students were Eliseo Gonzalez, Cecil Groetken, Chantal Umutoni, and married couple Jeff and Tanica Perry. Each student shared a brief history of their experience before coming to BC.
The BC girl’s softball team, scholarship students, drama students and Peer to Peer also volunteered at the event as a welcoming committee and ushers. They also helped set up and break down.
“On behalf of everyone at the college and the Foundation, we sincerely thank all those who gave so generously, making this year’s luncheon a huge success. The support we received will have a tangible and beneficial impact by helping many deserving students complete their education, giving them a shot at better-paying jobs and a better quality of life for themselves and their families,” said Bill Kent, an executive with Mortenson Construction, as well as the president of the Bellevue College Foundation Board.
The Bellevue College Foundation is a non-profit organization for BC students. Its board is composed of 30 community volunteers. The Foundation accepts and handles monetary support from both individuals and corporations on behalf of Bellevue College. The Foundation annually awards more than $100,000 to its students, and since its beginning in 1978, it has raised more than $20 million for scholarships and educational programs at the college.
Talbott said, “Without a doubt, this event was a success!”