By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
More than 375 guests attended the 7th annual Viper Nation Gala on Saturday night and raised more than $140,000 (before deducting expenses) for the Viper Nation Education Foundation, which supports the eight public schools in Four Points.
“The Viper Nation Education Foundation wishes to thank all sponsors, donors and guests for making the 2017 gala a fantastic evening,” said Courtney Johnson, VNEF executive director.
Dan Troxell, Leander ISD superintendent, spoke at the March 4 event at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Austin. He has toured high school and college campuses that have upgraded their libraries to scholar lab expectations so that students can study with the use of technology. After voicing his support for VNEF’s initiative to create a Scholar Lab at Vandegrift, guests responded with a record-breaking $44,200 for the VNEF Gala fund-a-need.
“The gala’s fund-a-need success blew our expectations,” Johnson said.
The VNEF board will allocate 70 percent (or $30,940) toward completion of the VHS Scholar Lab, while 30 percent (or $13,260) will be dedicated toward middle and high school college readiness programs which are considered some of VNEF’s most valuable student initiatives.
Presenting sponsor Sam Sinno of Apple Sport Imports gave a heartfelt speech at the Viper Nation Gala about his support of the foundation and his appreciation of the community as his company has grown over the past nine years.
A sleek 2014, white BMW 435i graced the ballroom with the Apple Sport Imports logo beaming on the wall above. Sinno offered to donate a portion of the proceeds back to the foundation if the BMW 435i sells within a month of the gala. The car is listed at $38,995 with 31,086 miles on it and is in excellent condition.
The University of Texas Cowboy volunteers added to the flare of the gala, decked out in their cowboy hats and chaps, as they sold raffle tickets. Neil Albritton won the raffle prize: a stunning .5 carat, white gold necklace donated by Hilderbrand Jewelers.
The UT Cowboys also sold heads-or-tails tickets. Carroll Scott won a fully stocked Yeti from Holly Dees, and Elaine Morrow won an Apple Watch from Michael Scott of Capstar Lending.
Steiner Ranch dad, Charles Couch and his funk jazz band, “Time Out” entertained guest at the gala.
Johnson expressed how grateful the Viper Nation Education Foundation board is for the community to come out and support local education.
“To have more than $13,000 allocated to our middle and high school college readiness programs is a perfect way to start the 2017 year,” Johnson said. Middle and high school college readiness programs supported by VNEF cost more than $20,000 annually.
“We are so excited to be only $8,000 from completely funding the Scholar Lab,” Johnson added.
The estimated cost to complete the VHS Scholar Lab project is $38,000, and construction is expected to begin this summer. Donations continue to be accepted for the lab at: vipernationef.org/ways-to-give/.
Because of the 2017 gala, the VHS library donor recognition wall is now closer than ever to completion. Those families who donated this year and last, at the $500 and $1000 levels, will have their student’s names listed on the wall.
“We are well on our way toward funding another year of productive academic programs,” Johnson said.