44th Annual Scholarship Ball Set for Feb. 28 | Benedictine College

44th Annual Scholarship Ball Set for Feb. 28

Friday, January 09, 2015

The annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball is one of the largest and most successful fundraising events in the Kansas City metropolitan area.  According to The Independent, the Ball has ranked as one of the top 10 charity fundraisers in the Kansas City metropolitan area and has received an honorable mention regularly.  To allow for continued growth, event co-chairs Lene Westerman and Stephen and Joan (Koechner) Charbonneau moved the annual event to the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd., last year and that venue has been secured again for this year.  Set to begin on February 28 with Mass at 4:30 p.m., the Scholarship Ball includes dinner, awards, entertainment and dancing to live music by the Michael Beers Band.  Tickets are $200 per person. For reservations or more information, go to www.benedictine.edu/scholarship-ball.

Each year, the Ball features the presentation of the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict to a select set of honorees.  Benedictine College established the Cross in 1969 as a way to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence.  This year, the prestigious award goes to a pair of college buddies from the Class of ’77 and their wives. Steve ’77 and Peggy McBride and Jim ’77 and Linda Bongers will receive the honor during the evening’s proceedings.

Steve and Peggy McBride

From campaigns to scholarships to statuary, Steve and Peggy McBride have long been associated with Benedictine College. Steve’s father, James, attended the school when it was known as St. Benedict’s College and went on to establish two scholarships for students from Nebraska.  These scholarships have been combined with Steve and Peggy being major supporters of the James and Dorothy McBride scholarship.  James and his wife, Dorothy, were awarded the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict in 1980.  They sent Steve and all five of his siblings to Benedictine and Steve and Peggy also sent their two children to Benedictine. The statue of Mary enshrined outside the College Library was donated by James in the 1980s and Steve and Peggy paid to have it restored. Steve and Peggy have always enjoyed the Scholarship Ball through support and participation, and served 2 years as co-chairs. Steve is on the Board of Directors of Benedictine College serving as chair of the Finance Committee the last three years. 

A native of Aurora, Neb., Steve received a B.A. from Benedictine College in 1977 and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska in 1978. He has enjoyed a long career with the Federal Reserve Bank, starting with them right out of graduate school in 1978. He began as an assistant examiner in the Examinations Department and rose up the ranks at both the Denver office and the Kansas City office. He was promoted to senior vice president and general auditor in 2003, a position from which he recently retired.

Outside of work, Steve is an active member of the Prince of Peace Knights of Columbus serving as a trustee and treasurer in the 1990s and again serving as treasurer of the organization for the past seven years. He has volunteered with the United Way Community Care program, the Urban League and he has taught Junior Achievement programs for Catholic elementary schools at Prince of Peace, Holy Spirit and Holy Trinity parishes.

Peggy grew up in the farm country of Western New York and graduated from the E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Buffalo.  She did coursework toward a BSN at D’Youville College in Buffalo.  In 1978 she moved to Kansas, where she met Steve and, after a whirlwind courtship, the two were married in 1979. After moving to Denver in 1979, Peggy joined the Catholic Church where she and Steve served as Baptism visitors with Peggy eventually serving as the parish coordinator of the program until they moved back to Kansas City in 1986. She worked weekend shifts as a nurse at local hospitals so she could stay home with the children during the week and not put them in daycare. As the kids grew up, Peggy helped in their classrooms as a volunteer and taught CCD classes for the parish. Recently she was the interim school nurse at St. Agnes Catholic School and still works part-time as a registered nurse for Dr. William Buser at Gastrointestinal Associates, in Overland Park, Kansas.

Steve and Peggy have been members of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe, KS since 1986 serving as Eucharistic Ministers for many years and both were involved with the Catholic Youth Organization of Johnson-Wyandotte Counties. Steve coached both children in CYO basketball and his daughter in CYO volleyball.  He also served as CYO athletic director for the parish where he oversaw the opening of the parish gym and started the CYO football program. Since his travel schedule kept him on the road frequently, the Johnson/Wyandotte CYO director referred to Peggy as the Associate AD. In 2005 Steve was appointed to a three year term on the CYO executive board serving one year as board chair. The couple has two adult children, Ben and Kristen, and reside in Overland Park.

Jim and Linda Bongers

Jim and Linda Bongers are known for their good taste and unique style. That has been demonstrated in many of their gifts to Benedictine College, like a silver Porsche Boxter to auction off at the Scholarship Ball in 2001. In 2005, the couple gave an unparalleled collection of artwork to the school.  Known as the Washington National Cathedral Collection, the donation included some of the most recognized work by renowned sculptor Frederick Hart, like the bronze bas-relief panel “Ex Nihilo” and the life-sized bronze castings of the biblical figures Adam, St. Peter, and St. Paul.

These art pieces now grace the college campus, with the statues in place at the Raven Crossing located at the base of the legendary Raven Walk, leading up the hill to Mary’s Grotto and the Academic Quad. The life-sized fragments of the Creation as seen in Ex Nihilo have found a home on the Missouri Bluff Patio on the east side of the Ferrell Academic Center. Both Jim and Linda thought the spiritual nature of the pieces matched nicely with the spiritual nature of the college and its students, making Benedictine a natural home for the impressive works.

Jim graduated from Benedictine College in 1977 after having spent what would have been his senior year at Creighton University School of Dentistry, from which he graduated in 1980. He started a private dental practice in Junction City, Kansas, and has been caringly practicing there for 34 years. He has been flattered to be elected to several professional honor groups both nationally and internationally and has served on many local, state and national boards in both his professional and community/church functions. Jim has always felt a strong connection to Benedictine College and the sisters and monks he interacted with during his time on campus, in particular Fr. Eugene Dehner, who was his main biology professor. He fondly remembers walking next to the commencement speaker, Bob Hope, during the procession into the gym in 1977.  In addition to making monetary and art donations to Benedictine, he has also been a longtime supporter of the Catholic communities in Junction City and Manhattan, the Wildcats of Kansas State University and the School of Dentistry at Creighton University.

Linda grew up in Olsburg, Kansas, and is a graduate of Kansas State University where she received undergraduate degrees in leisure studies and elementary education. She went on to complete a Master’s Degree and has worked for many years as a media specialist for USD 475 in Junction City. She is National Board certified and has been nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year and for Kansas’ Master Teacher. Linda grew in her relationship with Benedictine College through Jim’s many stories/adventures with his fellow classmates and their regular attendance at the annual Scholarship Ball.

Jim and Linda have known each other for nearly 30 years, having first been introduced by Jim’s sister during a ski trip in 1987.  After what Jim laughed was a “fairly quick” 18-year courtship, the two were married in 2005. To stay strong in their Catholic faith and to experience the wonders of God’s creation have been their goals ever since.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.