Crimson Mission holds third annual Growing the Mission Gala


President Diana Tufaro kicks off the presentation for the evening. Photo by Reece Gunther.

Reece Gunther

The Crimson Mission, a nonprofit organization that helps raise funds for Manual and YPAS, held their third annual fundraiser gala yesterday, March 10 at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center.

While the exact amount of money raised is not yet known, President of the Crimson Mission, Diana Tufaro, considered the event a success even though the attendance was around the same as last year.

“When you do an event like this, of course we want to raise money for the students, but we also need to get our message out for who we are, what we are doing and why we do it. Each year we do it, we grow a bit more,” Tufaro said.

The event encompassed raffles, auctions and catering. All proceeds go directly back to Manual and YPAS. Local companies also auctioned off items and baskets as sponsors to the event.

The guests of honor this year were David Peak, Rob King, Keenan Burton, Geoff Lamb and Alesia Williams. Each guest of honor gave a short speech to recognize the Mission and celebrate their success.

“This is my home at Manual. Hopefully all of the students I am torturing by making them write a 10-page research paper will make the world a better place,” Williams said.

Keenan Burton, an alumnus of Manual, went on to play football for the University of Kentucky and later in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams.

“Manual put me in a position to be able to go to the University of Kentucky with a full athletic scholarship to play football. I was one of the all-time leading receivers in Kentucky history and was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 2008. I’m grateful and I’m thankful that I got that opportunity, and I encourage any kid that ever has any opportunity to go to Manual to do it,” Burton said.

In his speech, Burton reflected on the reasons for his success at Manual and beyond and how his struggles contributed to the person he is today.

“I’m grateful to be here because I don’t feel like I belong here… We struggled growing up and my dad never let the struggles affect the core values that I still instill in my son,” Burton said.

Eugene “Big Gene” Garvin, who recently passed away, was also recognized at the event for his service to Manual.

The Crimson Mission also showed a video from Manual students and staff thanking them for funding specific projects for different magnets and athletic purposes before the auction and donations.

Attendees commended the event for the outreach to the broader community including parents and former alumni.

“There’s a lot of other parents we know and it looks like just a good time,” parent Bruce Brightwell said.

“I think it’s a fantastic event. I’m so glad that we have it. It has been a success from the beginning and it’s wonderful to support Manual, the teachers and the program,” parent Craig Siengenthaler said.

The event concluded with dancing and card games after closing remarks from the Crimson Mission President and event hosts, Andy Treinen and Kirby Adams.

The Crimson Mission will soon be planning next year’s gala and Tufaro made it clear that the changes they made this year contributed to the success of the event and that there will be even more features next year.

“We want to go bigger [next year]. I like the format that we did this year; we changed it up a bit, Tufaro said. “Because of you [the attendees], we are able to do what we do for Manual.”