Ninth annual All That's Jazz benefit raises more than $105K

Legacy" was the theme of the ninth annual All That?s Jazz Student Scholarship event, held Oct. 27 at Penn State Greater Allegheny. And a legacy was definitely provided ? in the amount of $105,528, which will be added to the campus? student scholarship fund.

Penn State Greater Allegheny Chancellor Curtiss Porter explained that now, more than ever before, there is a real need for scholarship funding, with more than 91 percent of students requiring financial aid. Students Maria Marroquin from Washington, D.C., and Michael Monezis from McKeesport, Pa., demonstrated that need, thanking the crowd of advisory board members, alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Both receive scholarship funds, and would not be able to attend college without a little help from the donors in the room.

Amy Michaliszyn, title sponsor of the event spoke to the crowd of nearly 200 and remembered fondly her days at Penn State Greater Allegheny, where she met her then-future husband, Dave. She talked of some days having only enough money to choose between eating lunch or riding the bus home. Through their generosity to Penn State, the Michaliszyns are helping to make sure that students today do not have to make that choice. They made the lead gift in the reverse auction. In the reverse auction, funds are raised specifically for student materials such as books and laptops. The roles are reversed and prices decrease over time. As the price comes down, more and more people offer bids. All bids are winners, and more students receive assistance.

Amy Michaliszyn also had the idea to develop a ?backpack? campaign, where donors could fund the price of a backpack filled with common school supplies, approximately $200, or they could pick and choose items to ?buy? to help fill a back pack.

The night?s feature was, of course, live jazz music. This year?s entertainment served as a tribute to the "Legacy of Jazz." Jazz legend Benny Benack Jr. and his bandmates led the show. Throughout the performance, individual band members were replaced by new musicians, eventually showcasing Benny Benack III, recent and youngest ever winner of the International Trumpet Guild Carmine Caruso Jazz Trumpet Competition, along with his quintet representing the new young lions of jazz, direct from New York City.

Nancy Seifert watched the evening?s event unfold on the very stage named in memory of her late husband, William. As the entertainment and decorations underwriter, Seifert was closely involved, with David Pellow, entertainment co-chairman, in selecting the musicians for the event. She also oversaw the design of the decor, provided by Vital Signs and the floral arrangements by Bill Chisnell Productions. Chisnell created a symbolic tree featuring the names of legendary jazz players. Vital Signs decorations included a Walk of Fame with musicians? names on stars. A slide show was also played featuring previous All That?s Jazz performers and local jazz legends.

Also providing assistance to Clifford Wise, president of the Penn State Greater Allegheny Advisory Board, were Bill Flanagan, master of ceremonies; Nancy Traina and Amy Michaliszyn, Capital Campaign Committee co-chairwomen; and special guests broadcaster Bill Hillgrove and former Pittsburgh Steeler Craig Wolfley.

The event encompasses many levels of sponsorship. In addition to the sponsors mentioned above, patrons included Mark R. Gruskin, Margaret L. Signorella, Specialty Steel Products Inc. and UPMC McKeesport. A host of ambassadors, supporters, contributors and friends also donated to the worthy cause.

Plans are already underway for the 10th anniversary All That?s Jazz Scholarship Benefit scheduled for next year.¬†For more information on how donations can help Penn State Greater Allegheny students, contact Director of Development Joe Edmiston at [email protected] or 412-675-9047.