February 13, 2013
Smith-Cotton High School alumni and district supporters can bond over a “bon voyage” with the latest fundraiser for the Sedalia School District Foundation.
An eastern Caribbean cruise is being offered, with a portion of the fees going to the foundation. The Holland America cruise liner departs from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Dec. 1-8 excursion, which is organized by S-C Class of 1959 alumnus Terry Steele.
Steele, senior vice president of Travelmax Cruises & Tours, tries to get back to Sedalia from his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., as often as he can to visit with old friends.
“A lot of Sedalia people get together at Kelly’s in Kansas City a couple of times a year, in April and October,” he said.
In 2007, a group of Sedalia natives went on a cruise together, but not as a benefit; Steele said that during one of those recent Kansas City gatherings, the idea to do another cruise, this time to help out the foundation, was raised.
“Somebody contacted the foundation to see if they were interested. Then they got me involved and the rest is history,” he said.
Holland America recently lowered rates for the cruise by between $150 and $210 per person; the rates per person, based on double occupancy, now range from $499 to $1,499. Of that fee, $50 per cabin will go to the foundation.
The cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale and includes stops at the islands of Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, before returning to home port.
Diana Nichols, chair of the foundation’s Alumni Committee, sees the cruise as “another way to extend what the foundation does. We not only support and help the district and its students, but also help keep alumni connected.”
While word of the cruise has floated around for a few months, the foundation waited to make a more overt promotional push.
“When it started surfacing, it was late in the fall, and people were focused on the holidays,” Nichols said. “The last thing they were going to think about was something a whole year ahead. Now, with colder weather setting in, people are thinking warm, and going someplace warm in December for seven or eight days probably sounds pretty appealing.”
Response has been “pretty good so far,” Steele said. The price change means promotional materials have to be changed, so he is hopeful to see “a lot more interest here soon.”
The voyage will take place on Holland America’s ms Eurodam, which Steele said is “gorgeous, perfect for this kind of group.”
Nichols said the price reductions “came at a nice time” and have spurred more interest. Those interested can reserve their cabin now but full payment does not have to be made until 90 days before departure.
She also stressed that the cruise is not just for Smith-Cotton alumni, but also for friends of the foundation and anyone who wants to support Sedalia School District 200.
“Obviously, we would like to write a huge check to the foundation at the end of the day,” Steele said. “We would like to draw more attention to the foundation, get more people involved, get more people rubbing elbows and remembering where they came from, and give back to the community.”