Success Story


Back to Success Stories
<< Return to Current Success Stories

UST Mardi Gras Gala Raises Nearly $900,000

Despite the beads, boas, gowns and glamour at the University of St. Thomas’ Mardi Gras Gala on Fat Tuesday, March 8, the hit of the evening was fur – black Labrador puppy fur to be exact.

Circulating the Intercontinental Hotel lobby and melting guests’ hearts was Buddy, a 9-week-old AKC black lab who was auctioned for $18,000 and donated to the honorees, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. The puppy came with a posh palace designed by Kickerillo Homes, “Petiquette” training and doggy daycare.

The “Jazz it Up” Gala, chaired by Kathy and Dr. Ken Wells, raised nearly $900,000 benefitting the Fr. Francis E. Monaghan Scholarship fund for the education of current and future students. The Fr. Francis E. Monaghan Scholarship Fund, the cornerstone of UST student aid, will award $9.2 million in institutional scholarships to more than 900 UST students in fall 2011.  

Joining the crowd of 450 guests were 12 Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, whose Nursing School at St. Joseph's Hospital filled a unique need for women's health issues as far back as the 1930's.  In the early 1970's, the Nursing School relocated to the UST campus, but was forced to close during the 80's economic downturn.  Presently, UST is working to reopen the Nursing School in 2012.

UST students Robert Murillo and Steffani Rush, who won the honor of this year’s student king and queen, greeted attendees and later thanked donors for making a St. Thomas education possible for themselves and others. Numerous other student scholarship recipients lent a hand donning guests with beads and sharing their gratitude for their generous contributions to the university.

A highlight of the evening was an emotional moment between UST sophomore Natasha Alvarez and Trini Mendenhall Sosa. Alvarez encouraged guests to support the program with “paddles up” and shared how support from the Mendenhall Summer Institute enabled her to pursue a private education and take her place as a leader on campus. The Summer Institute and the Mendenhall Achievement Center were in 2008 as the result the largest gift in UST history from Trini Mendenhall Sosa, the former owner of Fiesta Mart, Inc., and a former board member.

In addition to the puppy, live auction items included luxury vacation packages Newtown Park Estate in Lymington, England; Pebble Beach, Calif.;  Las Vegas,  Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Cibolo Creek Ranch in Marfa, Tx. Guests also had the opportunity to bid a vow renewal ceremony with a Papal Blessing at UST’s iconic Chapel of St. Basil.

Serving as master of ceremonies was Dave Ward, KTRK Channel 13 news anchor. Entertainment was  provided by Yvonne Washington and the Mix and the UST Jazz Band under the direction of Dr. Malcolm Rector. Party-goers in attendance were Marianne and UST President Dr. Robert Ivany, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Mary and Vincent Kickerillo, Kelli Kickerillo and Todd Forrester, Ed Jones and Brenda Love, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Raye White, Alice and Keith Mosing, Gina and Devinder Bhatia, Trini Mendenhall Sosa and Frank Sosa, Dr. Mikki Hebl and David Harvey, John Poindexter and Claudia Craft; Cora Sue and Harry Mach and their family, Carmen, Butch, Joella and Steve Mach.

Shown above: Dr. Ken Wells, Kathy Wells, Marianne Ivany, Dr. Robert Ivany; Buddy the black Labrador puppy who was auctioned for $18,000 and donated to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word; UST sophomore Natasha Alvarez and Trini Mendenhall Sosa.