He is a man highly regarded not only for his sharp business mind but also for his deep devotion to his Alma Mater.
He temporarily remains in the shadows after emphatically emerging as the catalyst to invigorate the most ambitious capital campaign in the 114-year history of his school.
He is an anonymous alumni-donor whose physical profile is not nearly as important for the next seven weeks as his pledge – offering to match, dollar for dollar, gifts between September 19 and November 14 up to $6 million.
He is suddenly the driving force behind the No Substitute For Victory Challenge, thrusting 4500Forever to a triumphant conclusion.
“Very seldom in life do you have the opportunity to make a real difference,” the unnamed donor said. “And this campaign needed someone to step up. How are they going to close this deal this year unless someone stepped up big? And I said to myself, ‘I can do it.’”
As St. Thomas approached the one-year anniversary of securing the final-hour $60 million final bid for the adjacent HISD property, the 4500Forever capital campaign stood at $31.4 million.
The unnamed donor had monitored the incremental monetary climb, been a consistent St. Thomas financial contributor for years but never approached a commitment of this multi-million dollar proportion.
He offers not a gift from generational wealth but rather a donation inspired through self-examination, the generosity from an every man out of gratitude rather than extravagance.
“Two months ago I never dreamed I would be doing this, I can tell you that,” he said.
“Then a couple of things happened. The last Eagles’ Nest had a story ‘Why I Give’ … quoted four alumni from different backgrounds and times yet they all shared many of my same beliefs about the school.
“Right around that same time I had dinner with a friend. He was telling me how much money he had given to different charities and I started thinking, ‘I can do something like that.’”
And then came the sudden realization for our anonymous alum that a gift made from the heart creates a connection to something larger and brings meaning and purpose to one’s life which may not have before existed.
“About a week ago, I had a sleepless night and it suddenly hit me – if you’re going to do something, go for it. Don’t mess around, go for it. I emailed (president) Fr. (Kevin) Storey and told him how impressed I was with him and his vision for St. Thomas. And I’m really fired up after that miracle win over Strake. And I’m willing to talk big money.”
The two immediately hammered out details and Fr. Storey proclaimed the No Substitute For Victory Challenge minutes before the Eagles kicked-off their annual Homecoming game in front of a soon-to-be frenzied Hotze Field crowd.
The buzz immediately reverberated throughout the bleachers in Granger Stadium, a call to action inspired by the STH $6 Million Man who will be revealed November 7 during Alumni Weekend.
“I’m hoping this will loosen some pocketbooks sitting on the sideline,” the unknown donor said. “Now is the time to come forward and back a winner.”
The soon-to-be-$6 Million Man has long recognized that his Eagle experience formed a foundation within him which continues to serve well in facing life’s challenges, joys and disappointments.
“Those Basilians instilled in all of us values that have carried us throughout our lives,” he said. “Just about every St. Thomas graduate I know feels that close affinity for that school and how the school helped them become successful later in life. Not only the education, but the values.”
The anonymous alum has possessed a passion for St. Thomas since those formative years, aware that his lifelong successes are in some way a result of the community that then surrounded and nurtured him.
The Challenge appeals to his intensely competitive nature with a name borrowed from his introductory days on campus.
“No substitute for victory … the first thing I heard when I was a freshman at St. Thomas before our first football game that fall,” he said. “I can’t remember who we played. I’ll always remember those words.”
Just as vivid is a stirring and emotional recollection describing how his family once faced financial stress and his father, unable to meet the next tuition payments, arrived on campus fully prepared to remove an older brother from the school.
The Basilians would have none of it, instructing the father to leave his son enrolled and simply pay when the dollars became available.
“And that was one of the best investments St. Thomas ever made,” he said.
The mystery donor now stands with equally strong convictions to support the Eagle scholars of tomorrow, determined to lead those who embraced the Basilian mission in earlier times, rising to accept the mission for this time, to shape an institution stronger and more entrenched than ever advancing into the school’s second century of teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge in the tradition of the Basilian Fathers.
“Fr. Storey’s intent is to make St. Thomas one of the premier Catholic boys schools in the country,” he said. “(The Basilians) can’t do that without this property. A city as big and as alive as Houston (right now), this is going to put St. Thomas on the map in a way unlike ever before.”
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.