First-ever comprehensive campaign delivers on promise to advance students, innovation and research, and community health
ROOTSTOWN, OHIO – Nearly three years after NEOMED launched the public phase of Shine On, its largest and most comprehensive fundraising effort ever, the University held a celebration to announce that it met and exceeded its $40 million goal.
During the One Shining Evening Gala, held Saturday, Sept. 8, in the NEW Center Grand Ballroom, NEOMED revealed ― with all the requisite pomp and circumstance for a celebration ― that it had raised $44,014,352, surpassing its goal by more than 10 percent.
The gala, which included two receptions, a dinner with a live auction and an after-dinner party ― all provided by donor support ― ultimately engaged nearly 400 attendees on how the needs of a community and a passionate group of organized stakeholders can align to make a difference. An exquisite menu was designed by Executive Chef Xavier Smith, the winner of this year’s 10th Annual Vegan Iron Chef competition at Canal Park in Akron. Guests also enjoyed the presentation during dinner, which celebrated donors, recognized alumni association award winners and highlighted much of the great work ― increased student scholarship funding, new academic programs, research efforts and community health initiatives ― occurring as a result of campaign support.
“A philanthropic culture has been built at NEOMED over the past six years ― a foundation for building a sustainable future for the University,” remarked Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president at Northeast Ohio Medical University since January 2010. “Thanks to our wonderful donors and supporters ― trustee, foundation, and alumni association boards; students, faculty, alumni and staff; businesses, foundations, hospitals and other universities; community members and civic and public entities ― NEOMED’s world-class education, research and service will remain as great as ever.”
The evening had quite a few sources of excitement during dinner, including a live auction conducted by Brooks Ames of Kiko Auctioneers with the help of gala co-chairs, Lisa and Brian Wagner, who served as masters of ceremony for the auction. Designed to raise additional funds specifically for student scholarships, the auction included experiential packages ranging from a Goodyear blimp ride for two to a Condo at Cabo. When Ames wrapped the auction with Fund a Need call ― for student scholarships, as well as white coat ceremony support ― many pledges were made. Bidders sponsored 100 white coats, which will be worn by first-year medicine and pharmacy students at ceremonies Sept. 17. The live auction raised $61,800.
As nine o’clock approached and the time came to officially close of the six-year comprehensive campaign and announce the total dollars raised for Shine On, Daniel Blain, vice president for advancement and president of the NEOMED Foundation, began to reveal the total. Blain, however, was interrupted by “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, ringing out from the speakers with promises that “tonight’s gonna be a good night.”
From several tables ― one at a time ― a flash mob of students emerged. Dancing to the music, students led the pleasantly surprised audience’s attention to the stage where “cold” sparkler fountains ignited and confetti cannons launched in front of large video screens. As those in attendance oohed and aahed over the presentation, the promise of a good night was delivered when an animated video revealed that Shine On had raised $44,014,352.
Upon announcing the grand total, Daniel Blain, NEOMED’s vice president for advancement and president of the NEOMED Foundation, thanked all supporters, including the foundation, campaign and gala leadership. Later, Blain added “for a community to raise such a huge sum is phenomenal, but to do it for a medical university of our size is unreal. We have so many people who care and see the impact of our students, innovation and research and community health. They understand the important role we play in our region and beyond.”
The $40 million campaign, Shine On, was chaired by a diverse field of community leaders in Northeast Ohio: Thomas Boniface, M.D. (’83), J. David Heller, Joseph Kanfer and Judith E. Barnes Lancaster, Esq.
Alumni Association bestows honors
Earlier in the evening, the University’s Alumni Association presented its annual awards during a reception that preceded the gala dinner.
Honorees included Lifetime Achievement Award winner C. William Keck, M.D., M.P.H., an emeritus professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine who, among other accomplishments, demonstrated the deeply rooted tradition of collaboration at NEOMED by developing support that led to a multi-institution public health degree; Distinguished Alumni Award winner, S. Patrick Kachur, M.D. (’90), who spent time living in East Africa, where he conducted research in the area of malaria—research for which he is now globally recognized; and Dale English II, Pharm.D., R. Ph., FASHP, who was honored with the Distinguished Service Award. The former pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacy practice professor had an overwhelmingly positive impact as one of the first faculty members hired for the College of Pharmacy, evidenced by the letters by former students that the NEOMED Alumni Association received in support of his nomination.
The evening recognized students, innovation and research, and community health, while celebrating donors who helped Shine On reach (and surpass) its goal. But ultimately, it was about showing the impact of a community.
Dr. Kachur summed it up with a Swahili quote that begins, ‘’If you see boats on the water.’’ The meaning lies in the unspoken ending, said Dr. Kachur. “It’s a kind reminder to spare a thought when you see things going really well or as expected—spare a thought for all those unseen people whose talents, efforts and creativity have gone into making that possible. I think it’s a fundamental attitude of those of us who work in public health: that we all expect to work as part of a team. That our contributions, when they really work well, a lot of nothing happens. We sometimes find it excruciatingly uncomfortable and very awkward to be recognized individually.”
For more than 40 years, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) has worked in collaboration with its educational, clinical and research partners to successfully train health professionals and medical researchers who serve and impact the region and beyond. The University trains students in a team-based, interprofessional environment and offers Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees, in addition to master’s and doctoral degrees and research opportunities in other medical areas. www.neomed.edu.
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