STM Raises $336,000 at Record-Setting Auction Fundraiser

St. Thomas More High School raised a record-setting $336,000 at Cavalier County Fair, the 41st edition of the school’s annual auction fundraiser.
Over 400 guests attended the event on April 13, and hundreds more participated online. 
“The idea for Cavalier County Fair formed years ago, and I’m thrilled that we were able to bring it to life with so many guests in attendance,” said Dan Steffes (TM ’03), who coordinated the auction. “Everywhere I looked, I saw familiar faces, which speaks to the true family spirit of STM.”
“Our dinner auction brings together alumni, families, parents, and students across generations,” continued Rachel Arndt (TM ’97), co-chair of the STM auction committee, a group of volunteers who solicit donations and sponsorships for the event. “That sense of belonging to this community means the world to our students.”
Cavalier County Fair continues a rapid rise in generosity at the St. Thomas More auction. Funds raised during Cavalier County Fair represent a 49-percent increase since 2022 and nearly doubled the 2019 event, the last in-person auction before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated online-only events in 2020 and 2021.
“Whether you were a donor, volunteer, alumnus, staff member, student, or committee member, you helped make the 41st St. Thomas More Auction a great success—THANK YOU!” said Jon Greenberg, who has co-chaired the school’s auction committee for the past four years. “It was a night of great energy and enthusiasm to tell the story of a great Catholic high school. This fantastic result is a testament to the momentum that STM is building.”
With the success of Cavalier County Fair, St. Thomas More has raised over $1,000,000 from the past four auctions, despite the 2021 event being held virtually.
On April 8, event guests and online participants began bidding on over 200 items, packages, and experiences in our silent auction. The silent auction closed during the dinner program on April 13, and event attendees could then bid on 11 extraordinary experiences in our live auction, including throwing out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers game, VIP tickets to see Keith Urban at Summerfest, and naming rights to our driveway off S. Kinnickinnic Avenue.
At the dinner auction, St. Thomas More awards the Chancellor Award, the school’s highest honor, to an exceptional supporter who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Catholic education. This year’s recipient was Dr. Mary Voelker, a past St. Thomas More board member and graduate of St. Mary’s Academy.
After starting her professional career as a high school math teacher, Mary worked for 22 years at Wisconsin Gas Company. She then established a management consulting practice, earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Development, and began teaching at Marquette University’s Graduate School of Management and College of Business Administration. One of St. Thomas More’s most prominent advocates, Mary faithfully invests in the Ray Van Beck Family Scholars Program, an endowed scholarship fund that, along with honoring her late father’s legacy, awards need-based financial aid to St. Thomas More students.
“As we think about what made us the people that we are, if we don’t give back to that, the future generations are not going to have the same opportunities that we did,” Voelker said in her Chancellor Award video. Mary credited her teachers—especially those at St. Mary’s Academy—with helping her become who she is today and wants future generations to have the same opportunity.
Once the live auction and dinner program concluded, St. Thomas More senior Isabelle “Izzy” Haas introduced our Fund the Future campaign, which supports student scholarships. Haas shared a few of her favorite parts of high school—spending time in the fitness center, where she learned from Coaches Jimmy Litscher (TM ’06) and Mike Fricke and got to know her classmates, planning student events like homecoming, and, of course, cheering on our boys’ basketball players as they brought home the state championship.
“From my coaches who also played in this gym to the teachers who chaperoned fan buses for our student sections over the years, I can honestly say that it’s the Cavaliers that have come before me and the staff who have supported me who have made my time here memorable,” said Haas, whose father, Duane, graduated from St. Thomas More in 1997 and serves on board of the school’s athletic association.
“When you are thinking about supporting Fund the Future tonight, I want you to think about the people who make you think fondly of your time in high school,” Haas continued. “Remember the teacher who showed you extra care and the upperclassman who encouraged you to try something new. Your support gives future generations of Cavaliers the opportunity to see how amazing this community really is.
St. Thomas More then asked attendees to raise their paddles to help “Fund the Future” for the next generation of Cavaliers, allowing them to enjoy the same experiences as Mary and Izzy. This year’s campaign raised over $175,000, a 50-percent increase from last year’s event and more than double 2022. 
“While watching guests raise their paddles, I felt deep gratitude for the many supporters who made this year’s auction another record-smashing event,” Arndt said. “Months of effort and many hands were needed to make our auction successful. I am incredibly proud to be part of the auction committee and thankful for all their work bringing the event to life.”
Part of this success resulted from a Thomas More alumnus challenging guests who did not donate to Fund the Future last year to contribute to this year’s campaign. This alumnus announced that he would match dollar-for-dollar every new or increased contribution made at the Cavalier County Fair. This matching challenge meant that a first-time donor’s $100 contribution would trigger an additional $100 gift, while a donor whose gift increased from $500 to $1,000 would facilitate a $500 match. The match added $40,000 to this year’s Fund the Future campaign.
Along with funds raised from selling tickets, auctioning off items, holding raffles, and soliciting Fund the Future gifts, Cavalier County Fair benefited from several supporters in the local business community. Corporate sponsors included the Milwaukee Admirals, Excel Connection, Catalyst Construction, and Doral Corporation.
“Congratulations to our development team and auction committee on putting together such a wonderful event,” President John Hoch (TM ’87) said. “Once again, the STM community showed how special they are with their incredible generosity. It’s very humbling in my position to continually witness such generosity and belief in our school.”
Cavalier County Fair represents Dan Steffes’s (TM’ 03) final event as a St. Thomas More employee. Steffes, who has coordinated the past ten auctions, joined the staff in 2005 and has worked at the school for nearly two decades, most recently as director of development and alumni. He has accepted a position with a local healthcare foundation.
St. Thomas More will provide a development staffing update in the coming weeks.
To watch Mary’s Chancellor Award video, which premiered at Cavalier County Fair, please visit the St. Thomas More High School YouTube Page: youtube.com/StThomasMoreHighSchool. Izzy Haas’s Fund the Future speech is also available on YouTube.
To support the Fund the Future campaign, visit tmore.org/FTF24

Photos by ValerieAnn Photography
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  • Mary Voelker
    Thank you Dan Steffes for your years of dedication to the successful advancement of STM!
St. Thomas More is a Catholic, coeducational high school that inspires students to embrace the values of our Patron Saint by becoming men and women for all seasons. Rooted in Christ and the Catholic tradition, the school community embodies the principles of Christian discipleship, service to others, and academic excellence.

Thank you to Visual Image Photography and ValerieAnn Photography for capturing many of the photos on tmore.org.
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