The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Annual fundraiser nets record amount in donations

More than $2 million in donations were raised at this year’s President’s Dinner at the Waldolf-Astoria on Oct. 30. The amount was the most raised in the fundraiser’s 11-year history, according to event officials.

According to Bill Collins, St. John’s class of ’76 and President’s Dinner co-chair, St. John’s alumni and friends contributed $2,152,078 to the University, which will be used for scholarships and other financial aid.

“Given the reality of our economy, that accomplishment is nothing but spectacular,” he said.

More than 1,100 staff, students and alumni attended the event for cocktails, dinner and a ceremony to honor those chosen for this year’s Spirit of Service Awards.

Bruce Beck, a sportscaster for WNBC-TV and the Master of Ceremonies, said that this year’s recipients were inspired by the “passion and zeal of St. Vincent.”

The Spirit of Service honorees have given back to the community and many are St. John’s alumni. This year’s honorees included Mary and Lou Carnesecca, George McDonald and Maria and Joseph Schwartz.

A video (courtesy of A&E) was made for each of the Spirit of Service recipients and was played before each honoree accepted the award.

Mary and Lou Carnesecca were the first to be honored. Carnesecca coached the St. John’s men’s basketball team from 1965-70 and 1973-92 and graduated from the University in 1950.

“They’re full of faith, they’re full of love and they’re full of service,” Rev. James Maher, vice president of Student Affairs said in the video.

Upon receiving the award, Carnesecca introduced his wife to the audience and thanked the rest of his family, seeming touched by the video put together about him and his wife.

“I’m trying to get my thoughts together after that quite moving video,” he said. “I can still remember going to class [at St. John’s when it was in Brooklyn]. I was taught the value of good moral principles.”

George McDonald, founder and president of the Doe Fund, Inc., which he began more than 15 years ago to help the homeless, also received an award.

“I’m honored and humbled to be in the company of great Americans like Father Harrington, Mary and Lou Carnesecca and Maria and Joseph Schwartz,” McDonald said.

“It was my faith that allowed me to believe that our efforts could help to change people’s lives.”

He added that the Doe Fund has “helped thousands of people whom society gave up on.”

Maria and Joseph Schwartz, class of ’72, were the last to be honored.

The couple, called an “unbeatable team” in the video about them, started the Wellington Management Company in Boston.

Maria, who went back to college at age 30, set up a scholarship for women at Rhode Island College. She and her husband also set up the Wellington Charity Fund in honor of his parents.

“We accept this award with humility and we recognize that there is clearly more to be done,” Schwartz said.

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