By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – More than $30,000 in scholarship money was raised at the 12th annual Derby Rose Gala April 22 in Winters Dining Hall, according to Dr. Benji Kelly, vice president for development at Campbellsville University.
The gala returned following cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
“These dollars we’ve raised tonight will immediately be put to use to allow students to get an education here at Campbellsville University,” Kelly said. “At the end of the day, we’ve raised money for student scholarships.”
The Advancement Board started the Derby Rose Gala in 2009 to focus on providing Campbellsville University students scholarship money to pursue their education.
“It’s truly a team effort, because our Advancement Board members are spread different places, and we have to work as a team to be able to accomplish something like this,” Gwinn Thompson, chair of the Advancement Board and chair of the Derby Rose Gala, said.
Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University, said he has “fallen in love” with Campbellsville University after nearly four months as president.
“That begins with the people at this university, the heart they have for our students, but it also has so much to do with what we’re trying to do, the mission of this university,” Hopkins said.
“I am proud to be a part of the mission of Campbellsville University, how we’re working to serve our community, how we’re working to reach out and prepare students in this community, in other communities and around the world.
“We hope to do all of this in a way that honors Christ.”
Hopkins thanked donors for their support in providing scholarship money to students.
“We’re so grateful that you have chosen to support these students, and I hope you understand how vital this scholarship is to the opportunity for some students to be able to be here,” he said.
Without that support, many students might not have the opportunities they would otherwise have at Campbellsville University.
“Quite simply, there are students who would not be at Campbellsville University, and I’m going to go a step further and say there are students who would not be able to have an education like this if it were not for people like you, who stand in the gap and provide that support,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins and his wife, Suzanne, sang a rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” with the Bluegrass Ensemble serving as accompanists.
Madison Sheppard, a senior from London, Ky., majoring in chemistry, said she quickly realized the demand for her time, energy and focus as she balanced her classes and college basketball career. However, she said her coaches and faculty at Campbellsville University and her senior teammates taught her “once again how to grow in this new environment.”
“When I stepped onto this campus for the first time, I not only felt a sense of belonging, but I knew that I was stepping into a community of administration and leaders who would nurture me in love and support me throughout my time here at Campbellsville University,” she said.
In 2019, Sheppard was part of a mission trip, along with coaches and athletes, that traveled to Belize City in Central America.
“It was on that trip that the Lord confirmed my calling to serve in the mission field,” Sheppard said. “Campbellsville University provides students with opportunities to find who they are, change who they are, but to truly know who they are in the Lord.
“Over the last several months, the Lord has continued to mold me into the leader and servant that He has called me to be.”
Sheppard said, “I want to emphasize how thankful I am for people like you who find it important to invest in the lives of young people,” she said. “It is because of you that students like me have had the opportunity to truly find their calling.”
Micah Lauer, a senior from Campbellsville majoring in pastoral ministries, was a member of the Taylor County High School winning swim team and wanted to continue swimming at the collegiate level.
As teams started reaching out to him, Lauer began experiencing excruciating pain in his right shoulder. He eventually had surgery and a 12-month recovery. Throughout his junior year, coaches stopped talking to him.
“I was too big of a risk,” Lauer said. “That’s what they said, and it broke me.”
Then, one day, Casey Bradstreet, head swim coach at Campbellsville University, reached out to Lauer and told him she wanted him on the swim team.
“Because of the scholarships given to me, I was going to be able to go to CU for basically nothing,” Lauer said. “God used all of you to bless me and give me a chance. There are so many students here at Campbellsville who have been given a chance!”
Lauer’s competitive swimming career was ended after another surgery in August 2021. However, he decided to “go out to the rest of the university and serve, not just on my team.”
“Through all of my professors and people pouring into me I found what God is calling me to do,” Lauer said. “So, thank you, thank you for taking that risk, not just on me, but all of the students impacted by the scholarship funds.”
Stephen Horner, vice chair of the Advancement Board and a 1965 graduate of Campbellsville College, presented the Faculty Special Recognition to the School of Nursing.
“Nurses around this world and other health professionals have put their lives at risk during the COVID pandemic,” Horner said. “Many of them have died from it, so we wanted to recognize the School of Nursing because they are going to be out there serving others.”
Sharon Thomas, instructor in nursing and LPN director, accepted the award.
The Campbellsville University String Quartet provided pre-dinner and dinner music.
Horner provided the invocation.
Natalie Burdette, director of annual giving, sang a rendition of “God Bless America” as the musical benediction.
Pioneer College Caterers Inc. provided the meal.
Betty Hord, creative co-chair, Damon Rivers and Yvette Haskins were the decorators.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that has enrolled up to 12,000 students yearly. The university offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, masters, bachelors, associate and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.