Faith and basketball crossover at Catholic Families Night Feb. 25

Aaron Lambert

For the the fourth year in a row, the Denver Nuggets are hosting Catholic Families Night at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, Feb. 25, where they will face-off against the Houston Rockets for a regular season game. As with last year, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila will be the special guest for the evening’s game, and Catholic youth from around the archdiocese will have the chance to be directly involved with the game, including VIP experiences, the flag presentation, and forming a high-five tunnel for the Nugget before the game.

Catholic Families Night was originally organized in 2013 by Gold Grown Foundation CEO and former Denver Nugget Bill Hanzlik, in conjunction with Jeff Stemper of the Denver chapter of the Saint Sebastian Project, Tom Sauer and Mark Strawbridge, director of the Denver Catholic Schools Athletic League.

One of the big draws of the event, besides being able to attend a Denver Nuggets game for cheap, is the Basketball clinic for youth that takes place before the big game.

“The clinics are really good. It’s just fun for the kids,” Hanzlik said. “We tell them to wear their school basketball uniforms if they can.”

A portion of the proceeds from Catholic Families night will once again benefit the Denver chapter of the Saint Sebastian Project, a nonprofit organization that provides grants to schools for their athletic programs. The Saint Sebastian Project began in Los Angeles in 2008, and Stemper started the Denver chapter in 2011. Last year, Catholic Families Night raised $9,000 for Saint Sebastian.

The grants Saint Sebastian offers generally go to new sports uniforms or equipment for the schools. However, they also do what Stemper called “scholarshipping,” which helps to address the fees associated with enrolling a child in an athletic program. Stemper said that a lot of families have a hard time affording these fees, and are sometimes even forced to turn their children away from athletic programs, simply because they can’t afford them.

“We’ll grant money to help the schools pay those fees,” Stemper said. “We’re up to about 18 schools that we currently help in the Denver Metro area.”

Annunciation Catholic School in Denver is one example of a school that Saint Sebastian has actively assists with paying athletic fees. Other schools they’ve helped include Arrupe Jesuit High School, where they bought new soccer uniforms for the soccer team, and St. Francis de Sales School, where helped them buy a new scoreboard.

Catholic Families Night

Denver Nuggets vs. Houston Rockets
Sunday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.
Pepsi Center
1000 Chopper Cir. Denver, CO
Tickets: Lower/club level: $55, Upper level: $18
Purchase: www.nuggetstix.com/1718cfn

 

Pre-game activities

To be involved in the clinic and pre-game activities, youth can purchase a ticket at the above link and then contact Mark Strawbridge at mark.strawbridge@goodsheperddenver.org

COMING UP: School scholarships continue legacies, support Catholic education

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With school back in session, Catholic schools are beginning to grant scholarships and provide tuition assistance for well-deserved students enrolled in the upcoming school year.

St. Vincent de Paul School is just one example. In the spring, staff and parents from the Denver Catholic school will select fourth graders going into fifth grade who will receive the McKaila Steffes Scholarship Fund, established by Montgomery and Andrea Sykora through The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado.

The memory of the spirited and loving young McKaila, who bravely fought a neurological condition that caused tumors, lives on in the scholarship fund that gives young students tuition assistance.

“I remember McKaila when she was here,” said Suzanne Meyer of St. Vincent de Paul. “She was just so full of life — she touched everyone’s lives. She passed away when she was nine (in 2006). This scholarship is a nice memorial for McKaila.”

Donations to the scholarship fund greatly help current students, Meyer said, who exemplify the same great qualities as McKaila.

Jean Finegan, Gift Planning Officer for The Catholic Foundation, said anyone may give to the scholarship funds held at the Foundation either through a current gift or planned gift.  This allows for these funds to grow and continue providing tuition assistance for generations to come.

Assistance is offered for hard-working families in need at other schools, including St. Catherine of Siena School. The Elizabeth C. Giordano Garden of Hope Scholarship Fund was established by Gwen and Andrew Pomper to help children obtain an education grounded in the Catholic faith.  Giordano was an immigration attorney and active fundraiser for the parish and school before she passed away in 2013. The scholarship fund continues to honor and remember her and her contributions to the community by making a Catholic education more accessible for families.

The Catholic Foundation also holds scholarship funds for families sending their children to Bishop Machebeuf High School. The late Elinor Travis had faith that students at the school could achieve their dreams. She aimed to help them get there by establishing an endowment fund to provide tuition assistance. She named the William and Vicki Lynn Ingram Endowment Fund Memorial Scholarship in memory of her daughter, who attended Machebeuf, specifically to help the 65 percent of students from low-income families in need of financial aid.

“Elinor always valued education,” said her friend, Pat Brewster. “I think she had a passion for people and passion for life, and she was very generous with her money.”

Also benefiting Machebeuf students is the Sister Rosemary Wilcox Scholarship fund, named after the Sister of Loretto, founding principal of the school and later chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver. She passed away in 2012. Continued support for students can also be made through the Bishop Machebeuf High School Student Scholarship and Financial Aid Endowment Scholarship.

High school students at Holy Family may also be aided by the school scholarship fund designed for tuition assistance at the Broomfield school. The Catholic Foundation accepts donations to this fund, established by Deacon Jim and Karen Doyle, to help students in need of tuition assistance.

Catholic education can also be supported through the Don and Meredith Jung Scholarship Fund, established by Don Jung in memory of his late wife. Jung is an active member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Lafayette and offers the scholarship for students who are parishioners at the church and interested in attending a trade school.

The Annunciation School community won’t forget Sister Jean Panisko, S.C.L., who served as principal for 29 years at the school before retiring in 2010. Martha Diss Sundby started the fund in honor of sister in order to provide tuition assistance to families at Annunciation Elementary School.

Scholarship funds that further Catholic education held at The Catholic Foundation:

  • Bishop Machebeuf High School Student Scholarship and Financial Aid Endowment Scholarship -Elizabeth C. Giordano Garden of Hope Scholarship Fund – St. Catherine of Siena School
  • Holy Family High School Scholarship Fund
  • Don and Meredith Jung Scholarship Fund – Immaculate Conception Parish
  • McKaila Steffes Scholarship Fund – St. Vincent de Paul School
  • Saint Clare Christian Education Endowment Fund
  • Sister Jean Panisko S.C.L. Fund – Annunciation School
  • Sister Rosemary Wilcox Scholarship Fund – Bishop Machebeuf High School
  • William and Vicki Lynn Ingram Memorial Scholarship – Bishop Machebeuf High School
  • St. Joseph Scholarship Fund – Supporting the high schools within the Archdiocese of Denver
  • Elmer Von Feldt Scholarship Fund – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

To make a donation to the Foundation in further support of Catholic education for young students in need, contact Jean Finegan at (303) 867-0613 or jfinegan@thecatholicfoundation.com.