Video produced by Pam Jakub
Kentucky Derby Gold Rush Takes First Place!
The 20th Annual Gold Rush was celebrated Kentucky Derby style on Saturday, April 7th at Aquinas Catholic in David City with another sellout crowd in attendance. With oversized hats, jockeys, and roses galore over 540 guests celebrated in support of Aquinas & St. Mary’s Catholic Schools. It all began with the celebration of Mass in the Aquinas Chapel. Nine silent auction tables opened following Mass and closed throughout the night with over 400 items for guests to bid on. Dinner was served by 30 Aquinas Catholic High School Students and the meal was prepared by CK Catering with all of the prime rib donated by Dr. Ray and Lu Metzner of NaturALL Steaks. A video prepared by Pam Jakub was shown before the start of the live auction to remind everyone why they were there, in support of the schools. This video is a big hit every year and can be viewed on the school website. The Live Auction followed the meal and featured 42 items with the Russ Moravec Family serving as auctioneers. Sandy Archuleta was crowned as Best Kentucky Derby Hat and Ryan Hilderbrand was crowned the best dressed man. “This year’s event was once again a big success with over $240,000 raised before expenses,” according to the schools Chief Administrative Officer, Fr. Sean Timmerman. “We are incredibly blessed with the event and are very happy to hear that everyone enjoyed in the evening.”
In 1998, Russ and Diane Moravec brought the idea of a dinner/auction fundraiser to the attention of Aquinas & St. Mary’s Administration. The idea was ‘gold’ and the very first Gold Rush was celebrated with a Western theme. That first year raised $30,000 for the schools.
One thing that hasn’t changed over these years, are the generosity of the Aquinas & St. Mary’s supporters and the dedication of the Gold Rush Committee. The Committee has decorated, designed, and worked twenty Gold Rushes with a different theme every year. Some favorite themes were, “The Roaring 20s”, “Husker Tailgate”, and “Masquerade”. Assistant Development Director Deb Svec said, “I am blessed to work with such hard working and talented volunteers in preparing for this event. Our committee plus numerous other volunteers who help with set up and clean up, put in many hours the weekend of Gold Rush in order to put on an event that everyone will enjoy.” Being the 20th Anniversary, the decorations were spectacular. A life size racing horse prop greeted all attendees at the entrance of the Kentucky Derby. Horseshoe rose garlands were displayed throughout the school with an enormous green garland horseshoe that encompassed the gym entrance into the Winner’s Circle. Even the bathroom stalls were transformed into racing starting gates. Many supporters enjoyed the free picture booth to celebrate and memorialize this momentous occasion.
There are so many people who make Gold Rush successful, thank you to every donor and supporter. Many thanks go out to the donors who gave all of the live and silent auction to this year’s event. Dan and Mary Jane Hilger donated Hilger AgriNatural popcorn that was enjoyed during the silent auction. Thank you to all who purchased Bus Raffle Tickets to support the bus fund. The winners of this raffle were: $5,000 winner – Mike Eller, $2,500 winner- Jim Stara, $1,000 winners – Ryan Hildebrand and Jackie Romshek, and $500 winner – Jim Barta. At the end of the evening, there is always a Blue Sky auction, which is for a specific capital expenditure for the schools. This year’s Blue Sky auction raised over $27,000 and will go toward cement work at St. Mary’s School.
The proceeds from Gold Rush are split between teacher salaries and capital expenditures. Many different capital projects have been completed over the past years on both school campuses thanks to Gold Rush. “Over the past 19 years, the Gold Rush Committee and our faithful donors have built Gold Rush up into an event that our schools greatly depend on,” says Fr. Timmerman. “Whether you donate time, talent or treasure, you are a very important part of what makes Gold Rush the successful even that it is for our Catholic Schools.”