MCKEESPORT, Pa. — The crystal clear voice of jazz vocalist extraordinaire Betty Shirley filled the Student Community Center at Penn State Greater Allegheny on Saturday, Nov. 7, as the guests traveled back in time to celebrate juke joint jazz at the 12th annual All That’s Jazz scholarship benefit.
The campus was hopping as Shirley was accompanied by the energetic sounds of William Thompson on piano, Eric Johnson on guitar, the multi-talented Benny Benack Jr. on clarinet and saxophone, and All That’s Jazz returning favorite David Pellow on the bass. The band was joined at one point by the Penn State Greater A Capella Melody Lions, the campus’ student choir.
Guests were treated to a feast with traditional, yet glammed-up, juke joint treats such as shrimp and grits, fried green tomato sliders, Cajun catfish, and pecan pie cobbler topped with Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream, all prepared by the campus' Housing and Food Services Department.
The crowd erupted in applause when the total was revealed, a whopping $107,035 raised in one evening. Since 2004, the All That’s Jazz event has raised more than $932,000 for student scholarships.
The money was raised through sponsorships, donors, the silent auction, and the Blue and White mystery boxes. One lucky guest won a trip to Costa Rica.
Special thanks to Premier Sponsors White Oak Rotary Club, Jay and Kimberly Weitzel, Gala Jewelers, and Cliff and Barbara Wise. Juke Joint sponsors included UPMC McKeesport, Jim and Megan Minarik, and Nancy Seifert. Joining the President’s Club were Mark Gruskin, Jendoco, John and Cynthia Oliver, and Magaret Signorella. In the Chancellor’s Circle were Luke Desmone, Galen Grimes, Nancy L. Herron, Ruth Hunt, Rose Kutsenkow, Dennis and Beth Meteny, Penn State Greater Allegheny Advisory Board, Penn State Greater Allegheny Alumni Society, Gregory Repas, Resource Development and Management, Inc., and John and Nancy Traina. Event supporters included Ed Datemasch, HDH Group, Michelle Hough, Karen Kutzer, Ross J. Nese, Grant and Phyllis Newmyer, and Ron and Susan Ott. Other contributors and friends were Robert Buring, Ronald Grassel, Melanie and Richard Payne, HB South Printing, Art and Cynthia Baldwin, Alan and Dotti Bober, Linda Curinga, Mark and Sandra Davison, Kim Dehainaut, W.R. and P.H. Fritz, Scott and Stacy Rogers, and Patricia Yurko.
Watch for updates on next year’s Million Dollar Event, where the campus plans to celebrate a million dollars raised for student scholarships.