Tulsa Chapter Shatters Its Fundraising Record

Tulsa Chapter Shatters Its Own Fundraising Record

Life for a Longhorn in Oklahoma can be lonely. Members of the Tulsa Chapter of the Texas Exes can’t exactly go to a big bar in Sooner country to watch the games; they usually just gather at another member’s house.

That’s why the chapter’s annual fundraiser is a much-anticipated event for displaced alumni. Last Thursday night, alums put on their best burnt orange, boots, and jeans, and gathered at the Gilcrease Museum for their annual fundraising event. The dinner was held in a room overlooking the green West Tulsa Hills—or what many Texas fans consider enemy territory. For a few hours, local Longhorns came together for fellowship, an update from UT president Bill Powers, and to raise money to help send more of the area’s brightest down to their alma mater. Steve Hobbs, BS ’01, Life Member, chapter president, says, “We’re pretty passionate up here, because you have to be.”

Natalie Warren, one of five scholarship recipients being honored at the event, says that before she left Tulsa to visit the Forty Acres for the first time, a friend warned her that the UT tour was really long and really hot, and she’d probably want to leave it early. But moments after stepping foot on campus for the first time, Warren was already hooked. “A lot of people told me what when I found the right place for me I would just know,” she says. “When we were standing in front of the Tower, all of the pictures I had seen before suddenly came to life. I loved it, and I stayed until the last second.”

In the fall Warren will study nutritional science with a minor in psychology. She aspires to be a dietician and help change people’s lives for the better.

Powers, who flew in earlier in the day for the event, delivered a moving speech about how UT is “winning with integrity.” He spotlighted the many ways, beyond just athletics, that the university is leading the world. He spoke about research, teaching, and student life and pointed out UT’s recent wins, including the Dell Medical School and the Giant Magellan Telescope.

He also had some inspirational words for Warren and her fellow honorees, noting that Congressman J.J. Pickle, BA ’38, Life Member, once said, “When I came to UT, it was the first time I saw the world in technicolor.”

“For you young scholarship recipients, it will probably be high-def,” Powers quipped.

To finish, Powers talked about a key priority for the university: student success. “High school students want to get into college,” he said. “We want to get them through college.”

The speech probably contributed to feverish interest in a last-minute addition to the live-auction lineup. Just before the auction was set to begin, Hobbs says that Powers pulled him aside and whispered that he wanted to offer another prize: dinner for eight in his private office. Bidding for the dinner was fast and furious.”It started at 1,000,” Hobbs says, “and all of a sudden it was at 8,000 and then 10,000 and we ended up at 15. We all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Wow.'”

That bid on a single prize was the same as the total amount raised at last year’s dinner. In fact, the event was the most successful fundraiser the chapter has ever put on and Hobbs describes it as astounding. He estimates that the chapter raised more than $45,000.

As the evening came to a close, the future scholars sang “The Eyes of Texas” along with Powers and the crowd. Warren says she was touched by the support of her fellow Longhorns and that several members came up to her to wish her well and share their favorite memories. More than one of them gave her some cautionary advice about life south of the Red River: “Have a lot of fun down there, just not as much fun as I had.”

Above, from left to right: Scholarship recipients Kassidy Franks, Sarah Pennington, Arel Rende, Hardik Sheth, and Natalie Warren with President Powers. 

Photo courtesy Don Kreutzweiser.

 

 

 

 

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