College fundraiser sets stage for new scholarship program

There are not many American sporting events with the history and popularity of the Kentucky Derby. Its grand tradition—donning a beautiful hat, sipping a mint julep and joining fellow race fans in singing “My Old Kentucky Home”—is one to be enjoyed.

On Saturday, April 29, 2017 from 5 to 9 p.m., the Cochise College Foundation brings the old tradition of the south to Cochise County for An Evening at the Races, an auction and dinner gala. The main attraction of this event is a competitive “armchair” video horse race with more than 70 horses to wager on.

The fundraiser was created, in part, to help develop a general scholarship fund for the 2017-2018 school year. The “practice run” also may help spearhead an ambitious new program, which will  guarantee a scholarship to graduating Cochise County high school seniors

The scholarship program is still in development but seeks to help tackle a community challenge. That is Cochise County’s rate of residents age 16 to 24 who are neither employed nor in school. In 2016, that rate was 15.3 percent, and it exceeded the state rate by .1 percent and the national rate by 2.1 percent. The county population also is home to a lower percentage of adults (33.5 percent) who have obtained an associate degree or higher than both the state (36 percent) and the nation (38.2 percent).

Denise Hoyos, executive director of the Cochise College Foundation, said that making progress on these statistics may help improve the employability of local youth while also enhancing the quality of life of Cochise County residents.

Mark Battaglia, foundation board president, agrees with Hoyos. He said, “…we would have a better smoother functioning society if everyone had some type of education…There are a lot people who are not going to college simply because they can’t afford it. Then again, there are many people, like myself, that think we can change that.”

In addition to raising funds for future scholarships, the fundraiser will also help the foundation grow its profile in the community, as An Evening at the Races will be the nonprofit’s first sponsored fundraiser in recent memory.

“This is the test run. We are dipping our toe in the water,” explained Hoyos, adding that she hopes An Evening at the Races becomes an annual event.  “But, the more people we speak with and the more public support that is generated, the more scholarships there will be available for local students. It’s already generated some new interest in the college, even for things other than scholarships, among members of the community.”

On the day of the event, guests will enjoy a “race day” buffet, with carving stations, pastas, spring rolls, goat cheese and chive stuffed cherry tomatoes, bruschetta and other hors d’oeuvres and racing beverages. In true racing industry fashion, there will be both a hat parade and an auction where guests will bid on a variety of items. Overall, the event will be a celebration of tradition and higher education.

There will also be a special feature on Cochise College student success and those who have benefitted from donations and contributions. This year, all proceeds support the general scholarship fund.  

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling the Cochise College Foundation at (520) 417-4735. Details about tickets, including a regularly updated list of sponsors, guests, and items to be auctioned, are at

About the Cochise College Foundation:

The Cochise College Foundation mission is to promote student success through scholarships, facilities development and program support. By supporting Cochise College, the foundation endeavors to increase the college’s accessibility to Cochise County’s diverse and changing communities. Donors to the Cochise College Foundation help provide about $350,000 in scholarships and about $300,000 in program support annually.