Nearly 550 Jayhawks gathered April 27 to celebrate the University of Kansas at the 24th-annual Rock Chalk Ball, which is hosted by the Alumni Association and the Greater Kansas City Network.
Local news anchor John Holt, j’81, l’84, and digital reporter Crystle Lampitt, c’10, served as emcees. KU head football coach Les Miles and his wife, Kathy, were honorary chairs of the event.
The Bartle Hall red carpet was filled with KU friends, fans and alumni posing for pictures before moving into the Grand Ballroom for dinner. The evening festivities also included live music and silent and live auctions, which raised nearly $110,000 and featured a wooden Jayhawk carving from Kansaw Carvings artist Dan Besco, a trip to Greece, a ride in Crown Toyota’s Jayhawk car and a KU T-shirt quilt.
Thank you to the event’s title sponsor, Intrust Bank, and the presenting sponsors— Charlie Hustle, KJO Media and Gohagan and Company— for their contributions to this year’s ball.
Official photos from the event, courtesy of Steve Puppe, are available here and may be downloaded for personal use. If you attended this year’s Rock Chalk Ball, we’d love to have your feedback—please complete our survey.
Every year, Jayhawks show Kansas City how to put on a party. This year was no different.
The 24th annual Rock Chalk Ball, “Always a Jayhawk,” featured John Holt, j’81, l’84, and Crystle Lampitt, c’10, as hosts. Head football coach Les Miles and his wife, Kathy Miles, served as honorary chairs. Funds raised at this year’s event will support the Jayhawk Career Network, which has already created incredible lifelong connections among students and alumni.
Check out some of our favorite posts from a special night in Kansas City.
Thank you to @INTRUSTBank, the Title Sponsor of this year’s event.
“We are excited to expand our partnership to support the great tradition of #RockChalkBall in Kansas City.” – Beth Easter, KU alumna and INTRUST Bank commercial relationship manager pic.twitter.com/6H5iwBhcCK
Thomas Angel’s journey has been anything but normal.
A decade of overseas deployments, microfracture surgery, and an application to the University of Kansas on a whim have all contributed to his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Thanks to the power of the Jayhawk Career Network, Angel connected with H.C. Palmer, a veteran and retired physician.
“I just really think that our relationship, no matter what, is not a medicine mentorship,” Angel says. “I think it’s a life mentorship.”
Palmer, c’59, m’63, and Angel discussed their relationship in a video that premiered at the 2019 Rock Chalk Ball.
Thomas and H.C.’s story is just one of many mentorships made possible through the Jayhawk Career Network. The Jayhawk Career Network gives students and alumni access to career resources, jobs, events, programming and connections at every stage of their career. Services include KU Mentoring, a job board, informational articles and more. For more information about the Jayhawk Career Network, contact Kristi Laclé, assistant vice president for the Jayhawk Career Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTRUST Bank, a longtime financial services provider in the Midwest, is serving as the title sponsor of the 2019 Rock Chalk Ball, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, April 27 at the Kansas City Convention Center. Hosted by the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, the event raises funds for the Alumni Association’s alumni and student programs, including the Jayhawk Career Network.
INTRUST Bank is also the exclusive banking sponsor for the 2019 “Game Day at the Adams” football tailgates at the Adams Alumni Center. The financial institution, which for decades has partnered with the Alumni Association to provide Jayhawk credit cards to KU alumni, will also support the Association with a Presidents Club contribution.
“The KU Alumni Association has developed a strong relationship with INTRUST Bank through the years, and we’re thrilled to continue our partnership with them,” said Heath Peterson, Association president. “Thanks to their generous support, we will be able to deliver outstanding programs and services for Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas City and beyond.”
“INTRUST has a long history of working with the KU Alumni Association and we’re proud to continue that partnership by supporting KU alumni, fans and friends around the world,” said Beth Easter, a KU alumnus and INTRUST Bank commercial relationship manager. “We are excited to expand our partnership to support the great tradition of Rock Chalk Ball in Kansas City and engage alumni during the upcoming football season at ‘Game Day at the Adams.’”
KJO Media, a video-production company based in Kansas City, is a presenting sponsor of the 2019 Rock Chalk Ball, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, April 27 at the Kansas City Convention Center. Hosted by the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, the event raises funds for the Alumni Association’s alumni and student programs, including the Jayhawk Career Network.
As a presenting sponsor of this year’s event, KJO Media will provide professional media and video services and help capture the spirit of the 24th-annual KU Kansas City tradition.
“We’re thrilled to partner with KJO Media, an innovative Kansas City company founded by a fellow Jayhawk,” said Heath Peterson, Association president. “Thanks to their generous support, we will be able to share the Rock Chalk Ball experience with Jayhawks near and far, and expand programs and services for alumni and students.”
T.J. Kilian, president and executive producer at KJO Media, is a 2001 KU School of Journalism graduate. “As a proud KU alumnus, I’m excited to work with my alma mater and introduce the KJO Media team to one of the Alumni Association’s greatest annual events,” said Kilian, a Life Member of the Alumni Association. “The Rock Chalk Ball presents a great opportunity for us to support programs that benefit Jayhawks in Kansas City and across the country.”
Rock Chalk Ball, the annual celebration of KU and its alumni is set for April 27 at Bartle Hall.
Sasha Flores Boulware is entering her third year as a Rock Chalk Ball chair, after attending the ball for years with her husband Al, c’98, l’02, g’02.
Boulware, c’98, g’00, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and remained at KU to complete her MBA. She formerly worked for Pfizer and Accenture Foundation and is currently a part-time consultant. Sasha also has volunteered for Jayhawks for Higher Education and the Emily Taylor Center’s advisory board.
We reached out to Boulware, who lives in Fairway, to hear about her experiences at KU and with Rock Chalk Ball.
Why did you want to be a co-chair of Rock Chalk Ball?
The ball is one of my favorite events and it never disappoints. Every year there is a new twist on what is offered to attendees. The detail I’m most excited about this year is the beneficiary of the Fund-A-Need, the Jayhawk Career Network. This tool gives Jayhawks the ability to truly connect and help each other far beyond their days on the hill and I love that!
What is your favorite Rock Chalk Ball memory?
Watching Dan Besco do a live carving of a Jayhawk in 2017 was amazing. I will always remember his excitement that day when he finished and presented the sculpture. That positive vibe is what Rock Chalk Ball is all about!
What advice do you have for young professionals looking to take the next step in their careers?
Networking and more networking, and not just with people in your current industry. I found that when I was ready for a change, it was the people I had meaningful relationships with who took a chance on me. It’s also how I learned about different opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
Hosted by the KU Alumni Association and the Greater Kansas City Network, Rock Chalk Ball unites Jayhawks in the nation’s largest KU community and raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU; communicate to alumni and friends in all media; recruit students and volunteers; serve current students, alumni and KU; and unite all Jayhawks.
For the third consecutive year, Kansas City-based Charlie Hustle has partnered with the University of Kansas Alumni Association. The apparel company, which offers distinctive collegiate and KU-themed designs, will serve as a presenting sponsor of the 2019 Rock Chalk Ball, the Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraiser, April 27 at the Kansas City Convention Center. The event raises funds for alumni and student programs, including the Jayhawk Career Network.
Charlie Hustle also continues to work with the Alumni Association on its 2019 Member APPreciation Month, a promotion that highlights the Association’s mobile app and celebrates member loyalty with a unique Charlie Hustle KU T-shirt, available exclusively to members only in February. In addition, the relationship includes marketing of the Charlie Hustle KU Collegiate Collection throughout the year in alumni communications.
“We’re thrilled to renew our partnership with Charlie Hustle, whose exclusive T-shirts are always a huge hit with our members,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “Not only that, but this sponsorship allows the Association to expand critical programs and services that benefit all Jayhawks.”
“For the past two years, we’ve been proud to expand our partnership and relationship with the KU Alumni Association,” said Chase McAnulty, owner of Charlie Hustle and a Presidents Club and Life Member of the Alumni Association. “We strive to evoke happiness and nostalgia through our brand and partnering with the Association allows us to do just that.”
Jayhawks celebrated their alma mater’s past, present and future at the 23rd annual Rock Chalk Ball, held April 28 at the Kansas City Convention Center. This year’s event concluded a week of inauguration festivities for Chancellor Douglas A. Girod.
Hosted by the Alumni Association and the Greater Kansas City Network, the annual event unites Jayhawks in the nation’s largest KU community and raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU; communicate to alumni and friends in all media; recruit students and volunteers; serve current students, alumni and KU; and unite all Jayhawks.
Chancellor Girod and his wife, Susan, served as honorary event chairs. Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info and the DeBruce Center, lent his voice—and his wealth of KU knowledge and traditions—as this year’s emcee. The event featured silent and live auctions and the enthusiastic sounds of the Patrick Lentz Band, one of Kansas City’s premier cover bands. The KU Libraries exhibit, History of the Jayhawk, was on display during the cocktail hour.
Sasha Flores Boulware, c’98, g’00, and Billy Marshall, c’00, served as network co-chairs for the event.
In keeping with the Alumni Association’s mission to strengthen KU, proceeds from the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball will be used to benefit legacy student recruitment and student programs. Proceeds from the Fund-A-Need portion of the auction will benefit the Jayhawk Career Network. A new KU Alumni Mentoring Program will be launched this fall to give students easy access to the power of our alumni base.
Thank you to the event’s title sponsor, Tickets For Less, and the presenting sponsors—Boulevard Brewing, Charlie Hustle and Gohagan— for their contributions to the live auction.
Check out some of our favorite social posts from Rock Chalk Ball below! Official photos from the event, courtesy of Steve Puppe, are available here and may be downloaded for personal use. If you attended this year’s Rock Chalk Ball, we’d love to have your feedback—please complete our survey.
Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing Company, the largest specialty craft-beer brewer in the Midwest, is a top-tier sponsor of the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, April 28 at the Kansas City Convention Center. Hosted by the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, the event raises funds for Association and Student Alumni Network programs and activities, including the new Jayhawk Career Network, which launches in fall 2018.
As a presenting sponsor, Boulevard will provide exclusive beer service at the event and will host the Ball’s new VIP area, featuring Boulevard Brand Ambassadors who will conduct beer tastings and showcase the brand’s latest offerings. In addition, Boulevard has donated a special package for guests to bid on during the event’s silent auction.
“Boulevard Brewing Company is synonymous with Kansas City, the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks,” said Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association president. “We are excited to work with Boulevard on the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball, where we will feature their line of beers exclusively for our attendees. We are grateful for Boulevard’s commitment to enhance the Ball and support our efforts to expand alumni programs, including the Jayhawk Career Network, for members in Kansas City, throughout Kansas and across the country.”
“The Boulevard team is thrilled to partner with the KU Alumni Association and serve as the exclusive beer provider for the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball,” said Natalie Gershon, vice president of marketing for Boulevard. “Kansas City Jayhawks provide phenomenal support of the Boulevard brand, and the Ball presents a tremendous opportunity to show our support of the KU alumni community.”
For two weeks each September at the Kansas State Fair, dozens of Jayhawks stand silent on the midway, ready to meet their fans. The state’s annual celebration in Hutchinson is where artist Dan Besco first introduced Kansans to his wonderful and whimsical birds. His chainsaw-carved Jayhawks, each with its own unique personality, delight alumni and adorn lawns throughout the Kansas City area and across the state.
Besco’s Jayhawks will be featured at the Rock Chalk Ball April 29 at the Overland Park Convention Center, where he will carve a 4- to 5-foot Jayhawk on the patio during the reception. The bird will be included in the live auction, and the piece can be customized with the buyer‘s name or initials. Smaller Jayhawks used for centerpieces also will be available for purchase.
A true passion
Of course, not every Kansan is a Jayhawk fan, as Besco learned one year during the state fair. One morning following a concert at the grandstand, a Kansas highway patrolman showed up to take a report on “the assault.” It took Dan a minute to realize that K-State fans had knocked over his 5-foot Jayhawk the previous night. “There were plenty of witnesses,” the officer chuckled, gesturing to several dozen wooden Jayhawk statues, “but none of them are talking.”
Besco says he does get considerable harassment from other schools who don’t like KU, but carving the Jayhawk is his true passion. A self-taught artist, he first learned to carve a bear. “It was terrible,” he says. “It was more like a bear-dog-pig, and I didn’t enjoy it at all.” He liked carving, but the bear didn’t interest him, and he didn’t think it would sell. “After all, who wants to buy a bear in Kansas? We don’t have bears in Kansas,” he says. Besco has always been a KU fan, so he decided to focus on the Jayhawk. He carved his first one in 1995, and he hasn’t stopped yet.
Quality and endurance
The sculptor says he is one of few carvers who use standing dried timber from Colorado. Other sculptors use green wood to carve, but that’s a poor investment because the wood will dry and crack unpredictably, and new cracks can ruin a piece, Besco says. Because quality and endurance are important to him (and a Jayhawk should be tough), he purchases wood that has died naturally yet is still standing in forests. To keep up with demand, he rents a truck and drives to Colorado several times a year to haul logs to ensure that the wood he uses is stable. Existing cracks in the wood, which add charm to the piece, won’t further crack or warp, he says.
Besco hews his birds from memory and can finish a carving in about two hours, then he trades his chainsaw for a blowtorch, burning the sculpture to smooth rough edges, waterproof the wood and add a deeper base for the stain, giving it an “antiqued” look. His Jayhawk renditions include a basketball-playing bird that attaches to an SUV and a long plank featuring all of the historical ’Hawks. His appearance at the Rock Chalk Ball will be one of the few times he has turned his talent into “performance art,” carving a sculpture from a tree stump for a live audience.
Watch the video to see Besco in action:
To see more of Besco’s work, visit www.kansaw.com. His KU work is officially licensed, and a portion of his sales support the University.