By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Quincy Notre Dame has set a goal of $411,000 for its 36th annual fund drive.
The Quincy Notre Dame Foundation kicked off the fundraising campaign Friday in the QND cafeteria. This year's co-chairmen are Julie Bowen, a 1989 Quincy Notre Dame graduate, and Ralph Oakley, president and chief executive officer of Quincy Newspapers Inc.
"If there was a state tournament for fundraising, you would be state champions, much like many of the teams at QND," Oakley said.
The fund drive is trying to exceed the $400,000 mark for a second straight year. The campaign raised $445,000 a year ago, surpassing its goal by $40,000.
First-year QND Principal Mark McDowell hopes the community supports the fund drive. He told a story about how he first learned of the Ronald McDonald House as a youngster, seeing a change jar on the counter at a McDonald's restaurant and asked his father what it was for.
"As a young person, that seemed important. He gave me his change and told me to put it in the container," McDowell said. "He then said, ‘If we all do something, then no one has to do everything.' That's very relevant for us today. If we all do something, then no one has to do everything."
Money raised during the fund drive helps keep tuition affordable by paying a portion of the school's operating costs and closing the gap between the $5,850 it costs to educate a student and the $4,800 charged for tuition. The drive also supports QND's financial aid program. The campaign has raised nearly $10.5 million since its inception.
Many members of the QND faculty and student body joined community leaders at the kickoff. They heard a testimonial from senior Gabe Nytes, who talked about what being a QND student means to him.
"When I was a freshman and I came here for the first time, I just felt welcomed by both the staff and students," said Nytes, who is a member of the QND choir and band and is also part of the school's National Honor Society. "It was like I was part of a new family. That really helped my self-esteem. When I first came here, I was a self-proclaimed introvert and didn't think very highly of myself. Now I know where I fit and where I can best use the skills that God gave me to excel."
The campaign will start with a six-week business phase. QND will hold its "Commitment Sunday" on March 3 at Catholic parishes in Quincy and Hannibal, Mo. The annual alumni "phone-a-thon" will be held from May 6-16. QND students, alumni and friends will contact out-of-town alumni for their support.
QND Foundation Executive Director Kurt Stuckman is hoping to see interest grow for the Raymond E. Heilmann Legacy Society, which is named after the school's longtime principal who retired last year. Stuckman said 119 donors were part of the program last year. Donors gained membership by giving an annual gift of $1,000 or more to the annual fund drive. Stuckman hopes to see that number grow to 150 this year.
The breakfast wrapped up with a four-minute video highlighting the school, which has an enrollment of 394 students this year.