Wabash CannonBall KC celebrates 10 years; Colorado and Houston events continue legacy 

K-State Alumni Communications

Wabash CannonBall Kansas City celebrates 10 years in 2016. (Illustration: K-State Alumni Communications)

It’s an annual event that has been a decade in the making, with hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for scholarships and volunteers contributing countless hours over the years. In 2016, Wabash CannonBall Kansas City celebrates 10 years. The milestone black-tie gala will take place Friday, Feb. 26, at the Overland Park Convention Center. Since it started, the event has funded more than 300 scholarships — totaling $770,000 — for Kansas City-area high school students to attend K-State. The concept of the Wabash CannonBall event has been such a success it has since been expanded to Colorado and Houston, Texas

“They were so excited to have that first one, and it really was so much fun,” said founding committee member Jill Gerlach ’76, ’81 in a video commemorating the 2013 Wabash CannonBall Kansas City. “People immediately said, ‘When’s the next one?’ The significant part of this is, we really are helping students choose to go to K-State. We’re giving them that opportunity.”

K-State Alumni Association President and CEO Amy Button Renz ’76, ’86 and a committee led by K-State supporters Carl ’76 and Jill Gerlach helped organize the first Wabash CannonBall event, which took place in 2007 in the Kansas City area. Andrea Bryant Gladin ’02, director of alumni programs, said the Wabash CannonBall was designed to serve as a “first-class K-State event” that would bring together alumni and friends to raise funds for scholarships. 

Although the original vision was to have 200 people at the first event, Wabash CannonBall Kansas City sold out the first eight years with 600 in attendance annually, and a new location last year provided room for 800 people. 

Attendees at the 2015 Wabash CannonBall Kansas City event gather to support scholarships. (Photo: David Mayes '96)
The Wabash CannonBall Kansas City also has funded a scholarship endowment fund totaling nearly $1.8 million, so scholarships can continue to be given out many years into the future. The event also has been expanded to Colorado and Houston, Texas; the first Colorado event took place in Denver in 2014, and the first Houston event took place in 2015. The next Wabash CannonBall Houston will be Jan. 22, and the next Wabash CannonBall Colorado will be Aug. 12 in Denver. 

Each CannonBall has a committee of volunteers who help the Alumni Association make these events possible. The volunteers assist with creating a vision, planning the gala, and seeking sponsorships. 

The event really does make a difference in the lives of students.

“I have always wanted to be a veterinarian, for as long as I can remember,” said Kaitlin Foley ’15, who is from the Kansas City area. “This scholarship has made it possible to finish my undergrad and start vet school without any debt.”

Tickets sell quickly for the Wabash CannonBall events; call 800-600-ALUM (2586) as soon as possible to see if seats are still available. 

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K-State Alumni Association
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