Sacred Heart Hosts Its 28th Annual Discovery Gala


Sacred Heart University honored benefactors Frank and Marisa Martire at the 28th annual Discovery Gala April 21, 2017. The event, which raises funds for student scholarship programs, took place at SHU’s new West Campus, the former General Electric corporate headquarters, and included a special performance by baseball-great-turned-musician Bernie Williams. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek.

By Fallon Bevino

Staff Reporter

On Friday, April 21 Sacred Heart University held its 28th Annual Discovery Gala.

This year’s event was held at Sacred Heart’s new West Campus in the General Electric Guest House.

All of the proceeds and funds raised at the gala support the university-based academic scholarship programs. In its 28 years, the Discovery Gala has raised millions of dollars to help students obtain their degree in higher education.

“In my opinion, the best part about the gala is the fact that it supports university scholarship funds so that our passionate, dedicated students are able to achieve their dreams and beyond,” said Kylie Martin, staff member of the Advancement Department and Pioneer Club coordinator.

In honor of their generosity, involvement and dedication to Sacred Heart, the honorees of this year’s gala were Frank and Marisa Martire. The Martire’s have previously been honored by the Board of Trustee’s when they chose to name the new Business Building after the couple.

Frank Martire graduated from Sacred Heart with a degree in Economics in 1969. The couple has had a financial impact to the university with their time and effort.

The Martire’s are among the school’s biggest donors and supporters, and beyond that, Frank is a member of the Board of Trustee’s who actively works on the betterment and improvement of the university.

“Tonight was a great night for multiple reasons. It was a great celebration of the Martire’s and all they have done for this institution, while also introducing all of our guests to our brand new West Campus and its beautiful Guest House,” said Dr. Petillo.

In honoring the Martire’s and all they have done, the organizers of this gala hoped to show other guests how important and impactful donations and assistance can be and inspire them to follow in the footsteps of the Martire’s.

“This year’s Discovery Gala really brought new life to the West Campus and gave guests a true-feeling of Sacred Heart,” said Petillo.

The 28th Discovery Gala was Speakeasy-themed. Speakeasy clubs were made famous in the 1920’s during the prohibition era, where it was illegal to sell and consume alcohol. What classified these bars as speakeasy was their hidden entrances and discrete locations, which allowed these places to remain a secret and stay open.

The five-floor Guest House is located in the very back of the West Campus and was built into a hill. The only visible aspect of the house is the lobby which has four elevators and took guests down to the very bottom floor where the ballroom was located. The speakeasy theme was chosen to show off Sacred Heart’s new hidden gem.

The night would be comprised of various food options throughout all three-courses, flapper-waitresses, and a club-like ambiance, including lights and booth-style seating. The event would conclude with a music performance.

The Gala began at 6 p.m. and the music performance went on at 8 p.m. This year’s performer was former professional athlete-turned-musician, Bernie Williams. Williams was a professional baseball player for the New York Yankee’s from 1991-2006 until retirement, when he then indulged in his other passion, music.

“We honored two truly philanthropic champions in Frank and Marisa Martire, most importantly to raise scholarship funds to help our students obtain a Sacred Heart degree,” said Anne Whitman, Special Events Coordinator in the department of University

Whitman said that with each coming year they exceed their rising fundraising goal.

“We surpassed our fundraising goal for a second year in a row, raising just under $900,000, all because of the generosity of so many university and community friends, corporate sponsors, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff,” said Whitman.

To learn more about the Discovery Gala, the impact it makes yearly, and honoring the Martire’s, visit:


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