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Sara Vore, an events coordinator at Illinois Wesleyan University, draws a map that shows where donations to the school are being made by alumni during "All in for Wesleyan," IWU's major fundraising day, on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

BLOOMINGTON — With a late-night kickoff Wednesday aimed at students and a day of challenges, Illinois Wesleyan University far exceeded its $400,000 goal for its “All In for Wesleyan” fundraising day on Thursday.

The university reported that $518,316 was raised from 2,205 donors making 2,578 gifts. An additional $258,000 from pacesetter challenge donors brought the total to $776,316, according to IWU officials.

“It's all about pride and being proud to be a Titan,” said Rosetta Clay, assistant vice president of engagement.

The kickoff Wednesday night in the Hansen Student Center was attended by 350 students, which “unlocked” the first challenge of the event. Sean O'Neil of the class of 1996 pledged $10 for every student who attended the kickoff event, up to $3,000.

An anonymous donor from the class of 1994 pledged to donate up to $50,000 by giving $50 for any “All In” donation made by alumni having a milestone reunion this year, meaning graduating class years ending in 4 or 9.

“We try to make it fun and entertaining throughout the day,” said Clay.

The organizing committee wanted to “transform the campus on this day,” she said. Signs were everywhere. Hansen Student Center was lit up in Wesleyan green. A green “All In” T-shirt was placed on the pet in the “Family With Dog” sculpture on the Eckley Quad.

There was even talk of having green water in the “Aspiration” water feature on the Egbers Quadrangle, said Clay, but they settled for green rubber duckies.

A major purpose of "All In for Wesleyan" is to raise money for the university, of course. But it also plants a seed with current students.

Although the university is not asking students to make a donation now, Clay said, “hopefully, after graduation, they'll remember this as part of their tradition.”

For that first donation, IWU is urging young alumni to remember the university was founded in 1850 and donate $18.50, said Clay.

“We're really looking at ways to re-engage not only with our community but with the whole community,” said Clay. “Here on the Wesleyan campus, we're all in and we want everyone else to be all in, too.”

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota

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Education Reporter

Education Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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