A large part of why APU is able to put on events such as Homecoming is money given by donors, many of them alumni. To kick off Homecoming 2013, the university hosted a dinner rally Friday night to bring together some of APU’s established and distinguished alumni, family members, and donors to share a meal and find out about the different programs and other ways the school is growing and advancing the kingdom of God.
Bev Weickert, director of development services in the Office of University Advancement, said this was the 63rd annual Dinner Rally, as the event started in 1950.
“It is a fundraiser for student scholarships and other programs across campus,” Weickert said. “At the end of the president’s message, there is an ‘ask,’ a time when the president asks our guests to partner with us in supporting ‘a city on a hill’ that reflects the life of Christ and shines the light of Truth.”
The event began with appetizers on Kresge Plaza and warm welcomes by the women’s Bel Canto Choir and Men’s Chorale. When the dinner bell rang, the crowd of guests and alumni came into the Felix Event center, which was transformed into an elegant dining room for more than 800 people.
APU’s Symphony Orchestra and guest soloist Darnell Abraham, a 2009 APU graduate, kicked off the night with a performance of “The Impossible Dream.” The theme of the night was “Imagine a World… .” This was reflected throughout the program in the musical performances and guest interviews.
The event was not just for alumni, despite its ties to Homecoming. According to Wieckert, around 860 people were registered for this year’s Dinner Rally.
“The event is for families, current donors, and prospective donors,” Wieckert said. “It is an ideal event to bring people to, to hear about how God is using this community to advance the work of God in the world.”
There were a handful of families sitting in the crowd, including sophomore communication studies major Kristin Atwan and her relatives. Atwan said having families in the crowd is very beneficial so they can see all that APU has to offer and how serious the school is about helping students financially.
“I think it’s great how [APU] has an event like this to bring together past students and some present ones to be in community with one another and discuss how we can further the kingdom of God together,” Atwan said.
APU’s banquet team prepared and served dinner as guitarist and 2013 APU grad Asaph Kim and harpist and junior music major Arielle Wong provided musical entertainment.
The night went on with Student Center for Reconciliation and Diversity Executive Director Edgar Baron hosting the night with interviews of alums and introducing five performances by Bel Canto, University Choir and Orchestra and Men’s Chorale.
Sophomore Bel Canto choir member and communication studies major Heather Wilson said she loved performing at Dinner Rally because it showed the alumni and donors a few programs and scholarships they’re helping to provide.
“Receiving scholarships is one of the reasons I’m able to come to APU, and I’m so thankful there are people willing to contribute to funding my education and many others,” Wilson said.
There are a few key components of Dinner Rally that have become traditions. Each year an Alumnus of the Year is chosen; this year it was 1993 graduate Matthews Chacko. He is an assistant professor of medicine, director of peripheral vasuclar interventions, and staff interventional cardiologist at the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. He received his Bachelor of Arts in biology from APU and is a proud part of the school community.
President Jon Wallace gave the State of the University speech to conclude the event and asked guests to partner with APU in support and advancement of the kingdom of God. Everyone had received commitment cards and at this time they filled them out and were able to make a pledge to later send in a donation.
“Dinner Rally is an evening of inspirational music and stories from students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff,” said Wieckert. “It is a very special time where you get the sense of APU and feel proud to be a part of what God is doing in this place.”