BY FRANK SOJAK
Jeanne Gleason, Carl Sax and others worked hard during the summer and fall to make student athletes at Pitt-Johnstown score better on and off the field.
Gleason and Sax co-chaired the planning committee for the premiere of the Blue and Gold Gala that raised $20,000 for athletic scholarships at the university.
The event, held Oct. 9 at the Sports Center, was attended by more than 300 people.
Gleason and Sax are delighted with the athletic programs at the university and want to see them grow.
“I’ve come to admire the coaches and student athletes for the great effort that they put forth,” Gleason said.
“They shine a great light on Pitt-Johnstown.
“They reflect the best of the best.”
The university has been blessed with dedicated coaches, she said. Coaches such as Pat Pecora, wrestling; Bob Rukavina, men’s basketball; and Sasha Palmer, women’s basketball, inspire others to want to help the athletes, she said.
She said a couple of years ago, the university joined the West Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Conference, where competition for the best student athletes is keen. Therefore, additional scholarship money is required to attract the best athletes, she said.
Gleason, who is chairwoman of the university’s Advisory Board, said they had great support from businesses and individuals who supported by the event by buying tables and tickets.
She said individuals and businesses donated items that were auctioned off at the event.
All of the nearly 30 members of the planning committee were committed to the event, she said.
Both Gleason and Sax said that Helen Golubic, a member of the committee and the university’s director of development, deserves recognition for being the mainstay of the committee.
Sax, who played basketball at the university in 1957 and 1958 and is a member of the university’s sports Hall of Fame, said athletic scholarships at the university are limited, so he and Gleason decided to help by organizing a group to hold the gala.
He said that because Pecora, Rukavina, Palmer and the other coaches have worked hard to bring national recognition to the university, it was important to help them attract bright athletes.
Sax, also a member of the university’s Advisory Board, said the student athletes are busy, having to focus not only on academics, but also on athletic competition, financial aid and community service.
“Balancing all of these areas is very difficult,” he said.
“If the Blue and Gold committee can relieve a portion of their financial burden, students can concentrate on academic and athletic achievements and be prepared for life after graduation.”
For their efforts at leading the gala, Gleason and Sax, both Westmont residents, are the Persons of the Week.
University President Jem Spectar said Gleason and Sax have his profound gratitude for understanding the significance of athletic scholarships and for their inspirational leadership in creating one of the most successful fundraising events ever at Pitt-Johnstown.
Pecora, a member of the planning committee, said Gleason and Sax were the one-two punch that made the gala a huge success. Their efforts are appreciated because the money raised will benefit many student athletes.
Gleason and her husband of 48 years, Robert A. Jr., have four children and seven grandchildren.
Sax and his wife of 53 years, Carol, have three children and eight grandchildren.
Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers. To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.