This article was last updated Sept. 17, at 5:10 p.m.
The 25th anniversary of Long Beach State’s Jewels of the Night fundraiser event was fun for all involved Saturday night. Student-athletes, coaches and staff, alumni and donors came together to celebrate the athletics program and the donations made to over 300 student-athletes across 19 NCAA division I sports.
The Walter Pyramid was filled with people chatting, checking out the items at the silent auction and entertainment from the cross country team performing various talents.
Admission started at $125 per person or $1,000 for a 10-person table. The annual fundraiser brings in over $100,000 for the student-athletes.
Jason Smith, a fourth-year kinesiology major on the track team, enjoyed the event because of the all-around friendly atmosphere shared between the grateful athletes and their supporters.
“It’s a great venue, lots of good food,” Smith said, “[the] donors [are] contributing a lot to us.”
The scholarships the athletics department provides to student-athletes are funded by the donations given at events like these. Attendance were people ranging from the women’s volleyball head coach Joy Mckienzie-Fuerbringer’s family friends, to the well-known boosters the Bohl’s and Walter’s.
“I had a really good experience here, [I] really enjoyed the teachers,” said Erika Pliska, who graduated in 2015 with a degree in accounting. “I did want to play sports but I focused on studies instead, so I want to create the opportunity for others to play sports.”
Opportunities like the one Pliska is providing can change someone’s life. Long Beach State women’s soccer Hall of Famer Nadia Link, spoke to the audience of how she struggled being a single mother with no income.
“I’m grateful, the stuff we have came from them,” men’s basketball player Jeffrey Yan said.
The event gave the athletes a face to smile at and a hand to shake for all of the support behind the scenes.
“We see all of these people supporting us and we usually don’t [get] see them,” track team member Derreck Affor said.
Many of the athletes helped serve food, like the women’s basketball team, while others worked at the silent auction tables or mingled with the donors.
Men’s volleyball player Alexander Anastassiades said his favorite part of the Jewels of the Night fundraiser was, “Saying hi to the donors, getting to know the people who support us.”
Men’s basketball player Colin Slater also saw his opportunity to show his appreciation by going around to, “Mingle and meet different people while being a servant to show our gratitude.”
With good fun and entertainment, the night went according to plan after everything the athletics department had put together.
“Our student athletes are awesome,” CSULB director of marketing and fan experience Kelli Gill said.