By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney football team raised $165,000 to benefit student-athlete scholarships at its annual Loper Football Backers Club dinner and scholarship fundraiser on Tuesday.
Nearly 600 people attended the banquet at Kearney’s Younes Conference Center.
In its fifth year, the event has raised $631,000 since it was first hosted in 2010. The $165,000 brought in through Tuesday’s silent and live auctions is a new record. The amount is the equivalent of 10 additional scholarships.
“What it says is what a great place Kearney is, and what a great community we live in,” said Head Coach Darrell Morris. “I was blown out of the water the first year when it was $80,000. I never thought we could do something like that. And now we’re over $150,000. People are great here in Kearney.”
Many UNK players helped host the event, and Morris said they are genuinely thankful for the financial support.
“They know where their scholarship comes from. They know that. Our kids are fully aware of our situation, and they know the people of this community support what they’re doing,” Morris said.
More than 100 items were featured in the auctions. Among items that brought the highest bids:
- $3,500 – Los Suenos Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort stay in Costa Rica.
- $3,000 – Red Quill Village condo vacation in Winter Park, Colo.
- $2,750 – Montana Sporting Club vacation and luxury cabin.
- $2,700 – Orlando, Fla., time share.
- $2,500 – Six liter bottle of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon autographed by winemaker Daniel Baron.
- $2,000 – Golf vacation at The Prairie Club near Valentine.
- $2,000 – Football signed by John Elway and Peyton Manning.
Multiple people also made $10,000 and $5,000 cash donations for scholarships.
UNK Athletics Director Paul Plinske said the money raised provides much-needed financial support for the Loper football program, which plays in the competitive Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
“I couldn’t be more excited about our fans and supporters, and what they just did for Loper football. I’m really proud to be at this university and have an experience like this,” said Plinske. “The turnout, combined with the effort of so many people who put their hearts and souls into this event, really makes me proud. We are really positioning our student athletes for future success. This will help us raise the bar of excellence.”
Contact: Todd Gottula, 308.865.8454, firstname.lastname@example.org