The annual StepUP® Gala was held Oct. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. More than 350 attendees, including 100 StepUP alumni and current students, participated in the evening that included keynote speaker, author, and StepUP parent Sarah Nielsen; emcee, comedian Bill Arnold; and alumni speaker, Samuel O. Spafford ’09. A live auction featured a private party with dinner prepared by celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, tropical getaways, a golf package and more.
Generous attendees brought in $290,000 in donations for the occasion, which is the primary fundraiser for all StepUP activities. This year, StepUP serves more students than ever before as it helps students navigate their way toward a bachelor’s degree while maintaining a 93% sobriety rate.
Kevin and Polly Hart of White Bear Lake, Minn., received the Toby Piper LaBelle Award for their commitment and generosity to Augsburg College’s StepUP program and to the entire addiction recovery community.
“Kevin and Polly have brought so much value to the StepUP program, the students in recovery we serve, and the recovery community as a whole,” said Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow. “We are blessed to call this dedicated couple our friends and are proud to honor them with this award.”
Kevin serves on the advisory board for the StepUP Program, where he helps guide and shape the program. He also is a board member of The Retreat, a recovery program in Wayzata, Minn. The Harts volunteer countless hours for these programs and also mentor youth in recovery.
Advisory Board Chair Mike Sime shared the strategic focus for StepUP going forward. It will focus on enhancing the program’s quality, growing the number of students in the program, and inspiring people across the country to develop collegiate recovery programs.