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Derby Rose Gala at Campbellsville University in 10th year

Natalie Shadrick, a freshman of Paducah, KY, said in her message, "I couldn't be here without the scholarships." This year's theme was "10th Annual Diamond Derby Rose Gala: A Decade of Raising Money the Derby Way"

By Ariel C. Emberton, student news writer, Office of University Communication

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. - "Never for a job. Always for a purpose," Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Campbellsville University 1949 alumnus and CU Board of Trustee member and chancellor at the University of Richmond, said.

Heilman was the guest speaker at the 10th Annual Diamond Derby Rose Gala April 20 in Winters Dining Hall.

The Derby Rose Gala was established in 2009 by the Campbellsville University Advancement Board as a fundraising effort to help gain scholarship money for CU students. Now, ten years later, the Derby Rose Gala has raised almost $400,000 in scholarship money.

"A lot of work and labor goes into making this event happen," Gwinn Hahn, a 1970 graduate and chair of the Derby Rose Gala, said. Hahn has been the chair of the gala since it began, and each year she challengers herself, and the people working alongside her, to produce a dinner better than the previous year.

For the past two years, Damon Rivers, a local florist and event planner, has provided his services to the planning committee and this year he said, "I wanted to bring out the diamond theme for the 10th year."

Betty Hord, a 1968 CU graduate, was the main person in charge of decorations, and she, along with Rivers, wanted to find a way to produce a diamond jubilee. When describing the gala, Hord said it was "the most exciting gala, gala number 10."

Natalie Shadrick, a freshman of Paducah, Ky., was a student guest speaker during the event. Shadrick said, "I knew this was where God wanted me to be." She spoke about how when she started college, she knew exactly what she wanted to do, but as time progressed she began to doubt herself. Shadrick was no longer certain about what she wanted to get her degree in, but knew that she was where she needed to be and that's what mattered.

Shadrick said, "I couldn't be here without the scholarships." Shadrick is thankful for the financial support she is receiving from the university and thanked the Advancement Board and Derby Rose Gala committee for finding a way to help raise money for students.

"We got rated in the top 25 universities of the South that students graduate with the least amount of debt," Dr. Michael V. Carter, Campbellsville University president, said. Sam Morehead, a junior of Almo, Ky., can say he is one of those students. Morehead is a pastoral ministries major and will be graduating next year, completely debt free. "Thank you for investing in me and in those like me who are yet to come by the gift of scholarships," Morehead said to the Advancement Board and donors.

During the ceremony, Roy Rich, a 1967 alumnus from Elizabethtown, Ky., owner of E-town Exterminating made a scholarship presentation to Carter. "On behalf of me and my late wife, I want to present a $25,000 scholarship," Rich said.

Donations, like those received from Rich, are what allow students, who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend CU, come to the university without worrying about their financial situation.

The gala not only raises money but it also allows scholarship recipients to personally thank donors and allows students in the mass communication area to get a hands-on reporting experience. Broadcast, journalism, public relations and photojournalism students from the mass communication department cover the event.

Some of the students, like Alex Meade, a senior from Paintsville, Ky., have been covering the gala for four years. On the other hand, Jesse Russell, a freshman of Burgin, Ky., attended the gala for the first time. "We felt it was important to bring a formal event to the students," Hahn said.

Sara Curry, a late 1960s graduate of CU and chair of the Advancement Board, said "It's a labor of love." Curry also talked about how these are the events that students are going to remember for years to come.

As the guest speaker, Heilman spoke about his life as a young man and how he got to the position he is in today. He wanted students to know that when they go through life they have a purpose and, if they live to fulfill that purpose, then life will work out the way it was supposed to.

Heilman grew up on a farm milking cows and lived during the Great Depression. He realized as a young man, he was meant for more than milking cows. Now, at the age of 92, Heilman supports CU and her students by giving back to the university and serving as an esteemed alumnus.

Following the gala, a concert was held which featured the Broadway performer J. Mark McVey and his wife Christy Tarr-McVey.

Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 10,000 students offering over 90 programs of study including 20 master's degrees, six postgraduate areas and seven pre-professional programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset and Hodgenville with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Summersville and Liberty, all in Kentucky, and one in Costa Mesa, Calif., and a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is

This story was posted on 2018-04-26 09:04:13
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Malinda Smith, Dr. Anna Mary Byrdwell and Ann Mardis at DRG

2018-04-26 - Taylor County, KY - Photo by Kasey Ricketts.
The 10th Annual Diamond Derby Rose Gala was held at Campbellsville University April 20, 2018 in Winters Dining Hall with Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, CU 1949 alumnus and CU Board of Trustees member, as guest speaker. From left, Malinda Smith, CU Board of Trustees member, Dr. Anna Mary Byrdwell, Board of Trustees member, and Ann Mardis of Campbellsville look over the program before the special evening begins.

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