Last week, on an unseasonably cold and snowy November evening, 200 people gathered for a heartwarming celebration of the legacy of Althoff Catholic at the school’s 54th Annual Benefit Dinner. Father Donald Blaes, our school’s first principal, led the gathering in an opening prayer. However, it was the words Father Blaes spoke to our first graduating class 55 years ago, that served as inspiration for the evening: “We, who have gotten to know you, realize that you have all that is required to bring your school the renowned reputation that you desire for it. We send you forth now to do that very job.”
Salute to Distinguished Alumni & Rising Stars
In celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary in 2015, the Alumni Hall of Inspiration was created. The inaugural class included 50 distinguished alums and 42 rising stars. Alums are added in both of these categories bi-annually.
Larry Mank ‘65
A member of the first graduating class and as the first alum to return to Althoff Catholic as a teacher, Mr. Mank was honored posthumously, Mr. Mank continued teaching at Althoff Catholic for 36 years until his death. He is the founder of the boys soccer program at Althoff Catholic and served as its head coach for many years. He also coached track and freshman basketball. A former student and nominator of Mr. Mank said: “In addition to being a great teacher, Mr. Mank showed us what it meant to be a good Catholic, father, teacher and servant of God.”
Jared & Adrianne Neville ‘97
Jared and Adrianne turned to their Catholic faith and upbringing to face the heartache of losing their daughter, Eden, at just 28 days old. The Nevilles channeled their sorrow into positive action in Eden’s honor and memory. A new chapter in their lives was started with the formation of Eden’s Army, a charitable foundation whose mission is to assist children suffering from cardiac problems and their families. In the four years since Eden’s death, Eden’s Army has raised and donated over $200,000 for the benefit of children, their families, and the healthcare providers in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Cardiac ICU. Eden’s Army sponsors the Beads of Courage program and has provided other comfort measures such as rocker recliners for patient rooms and a special visitor seating area.
Gerard Reis ‘69
Mr. Reis serves as the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs & Corporate Communications for STERIS Corporation. In this position, he is responsible for all interaction with Federal legislative staff and for the interface with the United States Department of Defense in the area of chemical and biological defense. Mr. Reis has been with STERIS since 1994, rapidly ascending the company’s ranks to hold positions of increasing responsibility. Mr. Reis has served as chairman of the national board of directors for the Young Marines of the Marine Corps League and as a member of the Board of Trustees for Lakeland Community College. He is currently a member of the Zoning Appeals Committee of Concord Township and supports a variety of community service organizations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Dan Whelan ‘84
Dan Whelan was our second posthumous honoree. He entered the United States Air Force on February 10, 1988, and he attained the distinction of Command Pilot flying the C-141 Starlifter in the 4th Airlift Squadron. He was an Instructor Pilot for Airdrop and Air Refueling. A veteran of Operation Desert Shield & Desert Storm, he received the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, and other ribbons and awards. He was honorably discharged from active duty on February 15, 1996 at the rank of Captain. He served three more years in the Air Force Reserves attaining the rank of Major.
Mr. Whelan then achieved Captain in a second career while fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming an airline pilot. He flew for Southwest Airlines for 20 years transporting thousands of souls across the continental United States. He was a six-time Yellow Jersey and two-time King of the Mountain winner in his six Pedal the Cause events raising almost $44,000 for cancer research.
Emily Beyersdorfer ‘12
Emily has dedicated herself to a life of service. It is evident in the career path she chose as a night shift emergency room nurse. Not only is the job rigorous, physically and emotionally demanding, but Emily specifically chose the not-so-desirable night shift to help save lives. She enrolled in the Jesuit Volunteers Core following her graduation from Creighton University. She was placed in a very poor and deprived neighborhood in Tacoma. She lived simply, donating her first year salary as a registered ER nurse back to the community. Emily also worked for the Catholic Worker, a place for people transitioning in and out of homelessness.
Sara Thomas Dietrich ’04
Sara helped rebuild the Althoff Catholic volleyball program, taking the team to back-to-back state appearances earning third and first place titles respectively. She has developed All-Americans, national athletes of the year, all conference, all region, and all-metro area players. She has had 15 athletes continue on to the next level playing at a variety of colleges and universities. Sara also ran a volleyball club, Metro East Fire, to help Althoff Catholic players have quality coaching during the off-season. She is now an assistant volleyball coach at her alma mater, Missouri State University.
Craig Toberman ‘07
Craig is a licensed CPA and holds the Certified Financial Planner designation as well. He volunteers his time working with children at Heartlinks Grief Center in honor of his father, Allen Toberman. As a Wealth Management Advisor at Archford Capital, Craig is a participant in the “Archford Angels” program which encourages employees to take an initial donation of $1,000 from Archford and work with an agency or group to make an impact. He won the 2017 grant for $10,000.00 from Archford for Heartlinks and helped secure an additional grant of $75,000.00 from MidAmerica Transplant Center. He also serves on the board at Family Hospice of Belleville and on the SWIC Foundation Finance and Scholarship committees.
Steve Warchol ’04
For the past six years, Steve has been employed by the Missouri Hospital Association and the Hospital Industry Data Institute. He is currently serving as the head of their Value Campaign, which is an initiative to improve customer service and hospital satisfaction. In addition, he is an ambassador for his company, traveling to many states that are considering or currently partnering with MHA for data services. Steve is considered a well-respected leader within his organization. His constant commitment to becoming a better person does not stop with his education. He is actively involved with Gen Next, a sub-set of United Way for young professionals. He served on the Steering Committee for Gen Next from 2014-2016, and continues to volunteer for the organization today. Steve also serves the community as a member of the Knights of Columbus in O’Fallon and is currently head of the Pro-Life Committee. He also supports Fontebella Maternity Home through donations and attending fundraising events.
Values & Vision Award
As we all know, the fuel behind great Catholic education is the generosity of time, talent and treasure given by dedicated alums, parents, friends and business leaders. For more than 20 years, Althoff Catholic has been honoring those who give so much of themselves to advance our mission through the Values & Vision Award. Mr. Foppe served Althoff Catholic in a variety of capacities from 1973 to 2013 including: teacher, coach, assistant athletic director and athletic director. Coach Foppe led the baseball team to a state championship in 1991. Since his retirement, Mr. Foppe has stayed actively involved in supporting the mission of Althoff Catholic in a variety ways, most notably as a lead volunteer with the Fathers and Friends Monday night bingo program. This group has contributed more than two million dollars to our school since the inception of the bingo program.
If you know of an alum who has distinguished themselves through professional accomplishments, faith, and service, please plan to submit a nomination in the spring of 2020.