Long distance swimmer and former ABC Sports broadcaster Diana Nyad is the keynote speaker for the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation’s annual Opportunities For Education Fundraising Dinner. The event, which is the main scholarship fundraiser for the Foundation, begins at 5:30 p.m. on May 16 at the Radisson Hotel and Suites in downtown Kalamazoo.
In the 1970’s, Nyad inspired the nation as she set long distance swimming records around the world, and through her actions, spread the word that women could accomplish feats men hadn’t even tried. In 1979, Nyad broke a world record in swimming by crossing the 102.5 miles between the Bahamas and Florida. This achievement, and others that followed, led to her induction in the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
After a 30-year break from swimming, Nyad once again captured the nation’s attention with grueling long-distance swims. She tried repeatedly -- most recently in August 2012 -- to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage. She called this effort Xtreme Dream and CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta documented her efforts. Millions of fans followed on Twitter and Facebook as she lived out the message of living life large and chasing dreams, no matter what age. Nyad persevered for 51 hours and five minutes, eventually ending the swim due to Box Jellyfish stings and life-threatening lightning storms.
Nyad has a reputation as a uniquely passionate and entertaining public speaker. Her story of courage and unwavering commitment continues to inspire. Stephen Doherty, Executive Director of Kalamazoo Valley Community Foundation, said Nyad’s message melds perfectly with the OFE Dinner’s mission. “The OFE Dinner is all about raising money for scholarships,” Doherty said. “Our speakers, for the most part, are inspirational and have the gift of hope, the ability to transform their lives. Diana has been a world class swimmer for years. Whether she succeeds or fails, she has never given up. Even at 63 years old she keeps challenging herself. She works to overcome the odds and attain her dreams, just like many of our students.” Nyad has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as the event’s keynote speaker.
The OFE dinner benefits Kalamazoo Valley Community College students with financial needs. In 2011-12, Kalamazoo Valley Community College processed 20,204 requests for financial aid. Of those requests, only 44.2%, or 8,934 students, received some form of financial aid. The number of financial aid applications continues to increase each year and the Foundation’s scholarship fund is one way the college works to meet student needs.
The pre-event reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the program which concludes at 8:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are available through the Foundation’s website at https://www.kvcc.edu/foundation/.
Tickets are $125 each or $75 each for students. Sponsor tables that seat eight are available for $1,500. For more information about the event and the KVCC Foundation, contact Executive Director Stephen Doherty, 269-488-4442 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.