K-State Faithful Step Up for K-State Student-Athletes

Funded completely by faithful K-State donors, the Vanier Football Complex is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2015 football season. 
With twice as much Academic Learning Center space and a massive new Strength and Conditioning Center planned for the use of all K-State's 450-plus student-athletes, the current two-story building is soon to be demolished and turned into a new four-story complex. 
Exciting and new on the inside, the Vanier Football Complex project will also enhance the North End Zone experience in Bill Snyder Family Stadium with a newly enclosed seating bowl. Improving the grass roots family seating experience and bringing an even louder, more intimidating atmosphere to each and every game day, starting next season, the Wildcats will experience home field advantage like never before.
The total budget for the new Vanier Football Complex is projected at $69 million including all equipment and technology. With a milestone of more than $48 million in gifts and pledges already raised towards the project, K-State Athletics is working hard to reach its goal of $50 million dollars in philanthropic support for the Vanier Football Complex.
Sports Extra has been highlighting those who have made lead gifts toward this transformational project. The past two Fridays, K-State Sports Extra has highlighted a few of the Vanier Football Complex's leading donors. To read their stories, you can click here.
Today's story will highlight the Lacy, Saunders, Knight and McCarthy families.
True examples of the passion that K-State alumni have for their university, Steve and Cathy Lacy of Des Moines, Iowa, are both very involved across the K-State campus.
"Cathy and I both received an excellent education and a strong foundation to launch our careers while we were at K-State," said Steve. "We are grateful and pleased to give back and support the institution and its current students. In addition, we believe the K-State Athletics Department is run with the highest business integrity and transparency, and we are excited to support our student-athletes and programs."
In 2006, Steve was recognized as the College of Business Administration Business Leader of the Year as well as being inducted in to the College of Business Administration Leaders Hall of Fame that same year. Steve is currently on the Foundation Board of Directors and is also the current Housing Corporation Board President for the K-State Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
Before becoming Chairman/CEO of Meredith Corporation, Steve graduated from K-State in 1976 & 1977 with his bachelor's degree in Accounting and MBA respectively from the College of Business Administration. Cathy is a 1979 graduate in Dietetics from the Kansas State College of Human Ecology and earned her Master's degree in Public Administration from Drake University in 1986.
"We have chosen to support the Vanier Complex because the facilities and programs will be used every single day to help all K-State student-athletes," continued Steve. "We think it's a fine investment that will not only benefit our current athletes and staff, but also create a competitive advantage when recruiting in the marketplace."
Along with their support of the Vanier Football Complex, Steve and Cathy also support the Alumni Association, the College of Human Ecology and the Ahearn Fund. The couple gave gifts to the new College of Business Building and the West Stadium Center, while they also provide the Lacy Family Scholarship in Business.
Duane and Bonnie Saunders of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, are long-standing supporters of K-State Athletics and Kansas State University.  
"It is not an understatement to say that Bill Snyder and Jon Wefald literally changed our lives," said Daune. "While we were always interested in K-State to a certain degree, we didn't necessarily go over the top until we started winning football games. We started going to almost every game, home and away. When this happened, we met many K-Staters and now have many close friends who share our passion for K-State."  
A native of Downs, Kansas, Duane received his bachelor's degree in Physical Education from K-State in 1961 andreturned for his Master of Science in Adult & Occupational Education in 1981. He then went on to receive a degree in Physical Therapy from the Mayo Clinic. 
Known by many as one of the founding fathers of Physical Therapy, Duane has authored textbooks in the industry and founded The Saunders Group - a group that developed and held patents on several medical training and support devices that remain in world-wide distribution to this day. 
Duane and Bonnie have supported many different areas around the K-State campus from Athletics to Military Sciences and ROTC to Housing and Dining. The two also host a special alumni event every summer in Eden Prairie. They set-up the Duane and Bonnie Saunders Scholarship Fund, which was established to provide financial assistance to students properly enrolled in any curriculum at K-State. Finally, Duane is a proud supporting member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. 
"Our involvement with the Vanier Football Complex is specifically directed to support the Sports Medicine Center," explained Duane. "Being a physical therapist helps us appreciate the importance of that program and we also know, first hand, what an excellent Sports Medicine Center K-State has. We want to keep it that way."
Though Kenny and Tamara Knight of Lyons, Kansas, did not attend Kansas State, the two are true K-Staters at heart. Three of their children are now K-State alumni, and the couple rarely misses a chance to support the Wildcats. 
"We love K-State football and we love to win," said the couple. "If we are going to continue winning, we must attract the best student-athletes that fit the K-State environment. We need to have the facilities as good, or better, than anyone else to be able to attract the best student-athletes. The Vanier Complex will not only help the football program, but also help all K-State athletic programs. It is our belief that the Kansas State Athletics is the front door of our university, and we need to continue having a great front door."
Kenny, the President of Knight Feedlots, Inc., and Tamara, the Cattle Accountant, served as Foundation trusteed until 2013 and are proud supporters of not only K-State Athletics, but many of the Agricultural programs across Kansas State University.
The Knight family made gifts to the Basketball Training Facility and are supporters of the Ahearn Fund and the Beef Cattle Research Directors Fund. They also provide the Kenny Knight Family Scholarship, which was established to provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the Department of Agronomy in the College of Agriculture. 
Former K-State Football letterwinner John McCarthy and his wife, Nancy, are both proud K-State alumni. 
Their life together began in Manhattan, Kansas, as the couple met in 1970 and were married in 1972. An athletic scholarship gave John the opportunity to get a college education, something his three siblings and parents did not have the opportunity to do. 
"Being part of a team, working hard and competing for five years at K-State provided great lessons," said John. "We developed life-long friendships and were proud to be Wildcat supporters. Those early years hold fond memories. Giving back is an honor."
John received his bachelor's degree in 1974 from the College of Arts & Sciences with an emphasis in Social Sciences. Nancy, also a 1974 graduate, finished with a degree in Clothing and Textiles from the K-State College of Human Ecology. John and Nancy reside in Leawood, Kansas, and are the owners of McCarthy Auto Group in Olathe.
Cecil and Frances O'Brate reside in Garden City, Kansas, where Cecil is the founder and President of American Warrior, Inc. Cecil has been recognized as an outstanding philanthropist in the state of Kansas. In addition to his support of K-State Athletics, where he has supported projects such as the Basketball Training Facility along with the Vanier Football Complex, he has also been a lead contributor to Youthville, student entrepreneur programs, and has funded numerous college scholarships for students to attend college across the state Kansas, including K-State. 
"K-State makes a positive difference for Kansans and certainly my family," said Cecil. "Both Coach Snyder and K-State football are important to the success of both K-State Athletics and to the university as a whole."
The Vanier Football Complex will be funded completely by private capital gift donations and additional athletics department revenue to ensure fiscal responsibility is maintained. For those wanting to get involved or support the Vanier Football Complex project, the best way to do so is to join the Ahearn Fund, K-State's National Fund for Student-Athlete Excellence. The Ahearn Fund not only supports scholarships for 458 student-athletes, but also provides critical funding in areas such as sports medicine and academics, as well as capital for this transformational facility. To support this project and K-State's student-athletes please click here.

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.