All aboard for a good cause

STAFF REPORT

Three Stillwater residents who were University of St. Thomas classmates in the 1950s are leading an effort to raise an endowment for their alma mater to fund an academics and sports center at the St. Paul university.

Part of that effort is an evening of "fun, food and fellowship" June 11 on the St. Croix River aboard the Andiamo with proceeds benefiting the St. Thomas Center for Academics and Sports, which provides free summer academic and sports camps for low-income youths.

Dick Olsen, Tom Keller and Bob Brown, all 1953 UST graduates and distinguished alumni of the university, are working to ensure the long-term viability of the after-school programs and other center activities. Olsen and Don Hovland are cruise organizers.

Boarding begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Andiamo dock with the cruise from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $35, with $10 tax deductible.

"This will be a relaxing, fun event with a great buffet dinner, live music and a silent auction," Olsen said. "Unlike most fund raisers, there will be no speeches, just a chance for program supporters to enjoy themselves and meet others who care about opportunities for our kids."

The cruise also features a raffle, but raffle tickets must be purchased before boarding. State gaming laws prohibit sales in interstate waters. Raffle items are a $1,000 gift certificate that can be used on the Andiamo or Lowell Inn or split between the two; a Minnesota Wild jersey with authenticated autographs of all members of the 2011-2012 team, and a hotel and meal package. Raffle tickets cost $10.

Last summer, 400 youths from St. Paul, Minneapolis and nine suburban district members of the East Metro Integration District were served by the summer camps. More than 7,000 youths have been served since Brown started the program in 1991.

"We hope to see many of our friends in the St. Croix Valley joining with some of our other supporters at this event," Brown said. "It is a chance to renew acquaintances and make new friends while helping create opportunities for our kids."

Contact Brown at 651-962-4992 or at rjbrown@stthomas.edu to buy boat tickets, raffle tickets or for information.

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