Holtz encourages help for others as Trine Gala raises nearly $1 million

Challenged by special guest speaker Lou Holtz to make a difference in the lives of others, a record crowd at Trine University’s 16th annual Scholarship Gala contributed nearly $1 million toward scholarships for Trine students.

The event drew a record crowd of 515 to the Keith E. Busse/Steel Dynamics Inc. Athletic and Recreation Center on Feb 9. In addition to hearing remarks from Holtz, guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner from Bon Appetit, a wine tasting, and live music provided by the Trine University Jazz Band.

The Gala also included live and silent auctions that included items such as sports memorabilia, vacations, jewelry, experience packages and artwork. The auctions and donations throughout the evening raised $975,000 for student scholarships.

“Every dollar raised here goes to support the students of Trine University,” said Earl D. Brooks, Ph.D., university president.

Holtz, member of the College Football Hall of Fame and author of three New York Times bestselling books, previously spoke at Trine in 2015 and 2017 as part of the university’s Distinguished Speaker Series, and was the 2011 Commencement speaker. The namesake of Trine University’s Lou Holtz Master of Science in Leadership program, Holtz served as a member of Trine’s Board of Trustees, and was named trustee emeritus in 2017.

“Just coming to this campus, I can see the pride the way the grounds are kept,” Holtz said. “Everything Trine does, they do it in a first-class atmosphere.”

In remarks sprinkled with his trademark humor and stories from his own life, Holtz encouraged those in attendance to pay forward what they had received in their own lives by assisting others when they have the opportunity.

He recalled being called home during his junior year of college to be told his parents were divorcing after 27 years of marriage. Devastated and needing to return to campus to continue classes, he began hitchhiking back during a January snowstorm. Finally a car pulled up, and two men gave him a ride all the way back to college.

“I said, ‘I don’t have any money to give you. What can I do?’ ” Holtz remembered. “They said, ‘Do a favor sometime for somebody and remember us.’ ”

“You can’t repay the people who played such an important role in your life. But one thing you can do, you can pay forward on it.”

Holtz closed with a reading titled “What Will Matter,” which included: “What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built. Not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. … What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion and courage. Your sacrifices that enriched, empowered and encouraged others to emulate your example.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, by being here tonight, you’ve proved you’ve lived a life that matters,” he concluded. “You’re helping other people: people you don’t know, but people who definitely need your help.”

Since its inception, the Scholarship Gala has raised millions of dollars for Trine University student scholarships. Scholarship funds are a critical part of allowing students to attend Trine, which awarded more than $31 million in institutional aid in 2017-18.

Photo: College Football Hall of Fame Coach Lou Holtz gestures while speaking at Trine University's 16th annual Scholarship Gala. (Photo by Dean Orewiler)