A crowd estimated at 470 scholarship recipients, donors, family members and college staff attended the 23rd annual Illinois Valley Community College Foundation Scholarship Recognition Reception recently in the gym.
The event honored many of the 268 students receiving scholarships in 2019-20 and the donors who made the awards possible.
Bud Matthews of Brookfield, Wis., who along with his wife Sandy created a scholarship for Hall High School graduates, delivered the keynote address. In 1976, Matthews was recruited by IVCC football coach Vince McMahon and played two seasons for the Apaches before earning a football scholarship to Wayne State in Nebraska.
He would go on to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration and a 38-year career with Hormel and Smithfield Foods, retiring in December as a senior vice president.
At age 16, Matthews lost his father and did the bare minimum academically to stay eligible for football. He recalled the pivotal moment senior year he met McMahon.
“I was playing pick-up basketball in Hall’s gym. Dan Darlington, future Morris High School Hall of Fame coach, was our first-year head coach at Hall.
“Coach called me over and introduced me to Vince McMahon. Vince said, ‘Buddy, I want you to play football for me at IVCC this fall. I think you could be a heck of a tight end. We’ll help you get your grades up through classes this summer and if you’re willing to put the work in, there’s a chance you could get a scholarship to a four-year college.’
“Vince was the first person in a long time that seemed to care about me and expressed some faith in me. I committed to Vince and IVCC, thinking for the first time maybe there was a future for me,” Matthews said.
Sharing three lessons from his “Never, never list,” Matthews said, “Never stop learning – education really is your ticket to success.” He earned the MBA at 42 and Sandy returned to college in her mid-40s.
“Sandy was the first person in her family of nine to graduate from a four-year college. Today, she works with special needs children. And we are both still learning.”
He also encouraged students to embrace adversity and “Never, never give up. Adversity is inevitable, it can teach us and it can strengthen us. Be better and learn from it.”
Finally, he urged, “Never, never stop giving. Helping one person may not change the world, but it just might change the world for that person. Vince McMahon changed the world for me. He gave me hope, faith, and the vision to see things not as they are but what they could be.”
Sue Schmitt, Foundation president, and Kim Novak, vice president, distributed certificates and IVCC President Jerry Corcoran did the welcome and introductions.
Corcoran said, “Nothing is more magical than watching what happens every year when donors meet the students whom they’ve invested in, and new relationships are forged; for many, it becomes a life-changing experience.
“To our donors, I hope you see tonight your generosity and thoughtfulness is well invested. We also hope you fully realize what an inspiration your giving is to our students.”
Among the honorees were 20 students receiving 21st Century Scholars Society awards, 29 earning awards from the Annual Appeal, Giving Day and Scholarship Campaign, and 20 incoming Illinois State Scholars each receiving $1,000 “15 to Finish” scholarships.
To create an IVCC Foundation scholarship, contact Fran Brolley at (815) 224-0466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.