The 49th annual installment of Cashbah, St. Louis University High's April 7th auction themed Bicentennial Ball, punctuated the school's longstanding commitment of admitting students based on their ability to learn and not their families' economic circumstances. The event, co-chaired by current parents Amy Hannah and Aura Quinn, grossed more than $2.5 million in support of scholarship assistance at SLUH.
Photos by Jonel Olar '20 and Kathy Chott
"Cashbah was an incredible evening and one that supported the ability of our young men from all walks of life to attend SLUH," says SLUH President David Laughlin. "Knowing how well living out that philosophy aligns SLUH with the mission of the Gospel and serves to form leaders for tomorrow, I am grateful to both our benefactors and volunteers for making the event such a success."
Excitement for the Bicentennial Ball began building last summer, with the announcement of a $1,000,000 challenge gift from Tom '64 and Cheryl Schilli. They wanted to contribute a $1,000,000 Presidential Scholarship in honor of Tom's parents, Ben and Laura, and challenged the SLUH community to match that level of generosity. In response, a record 71 sponsors agreed to support the event, with sponsorships totaling more than $525,000.
Famous actor Chris O'Donnell and his brother, johnnie-O founder John O'Donnell – sons of the late William C. O'Donnell '40 – welcomed more than 850 guests in the Si Commons with a touching video message. Then, the Schillis were introduced to a standing ovation, and Tom offered remarks about how honored he was to help the school.
The live auction featured incredible trips, one-of-a-kind sports experiences and uniquely SLUH items. Midway into the live auction, Laughlin introduced more than $150,000 in Fund-A-Need challenge gifts that were quickly met – and exceeded – with scholarship donations from the floor. All told, more than $450,000 was raised during Fund-A-Need.
After Fund-A-Need, Laughlin unveiled a video featuring graduates of Loyola Academy (the Jesuit middle school in St. Louis) and announced the creation of the Sheridan Scholars Program. The program (funded independently of Cashbah) will provide four fully endowed scholarships for graduates of Loyola Academy, and is named in honor of Fr. Paul Sheridan, S.J., SLUH President Emeritus and founder of Loyola Academy. A $1,000,000 leadership gift from Pat and Aja Stokes helped fund the $1.2 million program. Additional funding for the Sheridan Scholars program is provided by generous gifts from Sandra and Pat McNamee '78, Louise and Jerry McNeive '60, and Michele and John Stephens '77.
The evening was capped with a brief message from Alan Carruthers, SLUH President Elect (effective July 1, 2018), followed by an after party featuring live music by Mirage.
The Schillis' challenge gift contributed to a record-setting evening, more than doubling the amount ever raised at the event. All proceeds from Cashbah benefit the scholarship program at SLUH.