There are times when numbers seem to clutter life. This time of year, many people are awash in receipts and calculations as they prepare to pay their taxes. We just finished a political season that bombarded us with statistics and polls and prognostications based on a plethora of numbers.
The old joke about high school calculus, for some at least, was “it’s not the math that confuses me, it’s just all those darn numbers.”
Well, here of late in the Archdiocese of Louisville, we’re having a different experience with numbers. They are helping to tell a terrific story about the work of the archdiocese and the inherent goodness of its people.
First, there were the remarkable numbers presented by Record reporter Jessica Able surrounding this year’s St. Baldrick’s efforts at several local parishes and schools.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the whole St. Baldrick’s effort, it centers around “head shaving” events — where teachers, students, even principals and priests — have their heads shaved to raise money for pediatric cancer research. The idea began a dozen or so years ago and led to the formation of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in New York City, where the project began.
From those first few shaved heads have grown a nation-wide effort that will collect about $30 million this year for cancer research, according to the foundation’s website. And here in the archdiocese, participation in the, shall we say, slick idea has grown dramatically. In fact, this year students at such schools and parishes as St. Albert the Great, St. James Church in Elizabethtown, St. Michael Church, DeSales High School, Our
Lady of Lourdes Church and others raised more than $150,000.
Some of the individual parish and school numbers are remarkable. St. Albert the Great Church, for instance, raised more than $65,000, as did Our Lady of Lourdes Church, where the original goal was $25,000. “We blew that out of the water,” event organizer Tricia Fike told reporter Able. Fike, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes, said that in addition to shaving heads, their parish St. Baldrick’s efforts included a dance party for the children and the making of candy bouquets for patients at Kosair Children’s Hospital.
She also said planning for their 2014 effort has already begun.
At St. Michael Church, nearly 100 people had their heads shaved, including Father Richard Sullivan, and their efforts raised $49,000.
St. Albert the Great Church has been taking part in St. Baldrick’s events for 11 years, and according to Taylor Deibel, the event’s organizer at the parish, they’ve raised more than $700,000 in that time.
The point here is not to simply regurgitate the numbers, but to acknowledge, once again, the generosity of the people of the archdiocese. At the same time we’ve been contributing money to the annual Catholic
Services Appeal, and creeping ever closer to its $2.75 million goal — which is just a few thousand dollars away — the people of God took the time to help pediatric cancer research, and help it in a big way.
Last week’s numbers from the annual Salute to Catholic School Alumni are equally impressive.
A crowd of around 2,000 people squeezed into a ballroom at the Galt House Hotel for the annual event, and heard J. Bradford Rives, chairman of the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF), spread some good news.
He announced that this year’s event raised more than $560,000 for the CEF, a number which is even more extraordinary when you consider that just two years ago, the awards banquet raised a then-record $340,000. The money from the Salute helps the CEF provide tuition assistance to families who want their children to receive a Catholic education. Last year, the foundation provided $1.3 million in financial aid, but the truth is that number represents less than half of the tuition assistance need.
At the March 20 banquet, Richard A. Lechleiter, former chairman of the CEF, had the pleasure of introducing this year’s Salute keynote speaker, his brother Dr. John C. Lechleiter, chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company. But before he brought his brother to the dais, Richard Lechleiter issued another numbers-filled challenge to the Galt House crowd before him.
“Within the next five years we can make a huge difference in our Catholic schools,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be exciting to see a gradual growth in enrollment across the entire school system? Wouldn’t it be great to raise $1 million for the CEF from this event alone?”
One million dollars might seem like an out-of-reach goal to some, he said. But he reminded them that the first Salute banquet 23 years ago was attended by just 100 people and barely managed to break even financially. In the years since, the numbers have grown. And given the generosity and efforts of the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville, there’s no reason to think they’ll stop growing anytime soon.