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Deb Schulte and auctioneer Jonathan Larsen

Deb Schulte (foreground) works the auction floor as Jonathan Larsen (background) of Larsen & Larsen Auction Company acknowledges the bid during the live-auction portion of the evening.

PHOTO BY DENNIS BUCKLEY

The learning experiences at Lincoln Pius X aren’t restricted to the Catholic high school’s more than 1,300 students.

Twenty years ago, the learning curve was a steep one for Deb Schulte when she assumed the executive director’s role of BOLT (Building Outstanding Leaders Today), a highly successful annual fundraiser to benefit the high school at 6000 A St.

To take the reins of the then-13-year-old tradition and continue its successful path was a daunting task. Schulte, who credits her membership in the Junior League of Lincoln for training her to slip out of her comfort zone and challenge herself, hit the ground running.

At the end of this month, her chapter in the history of BOLT’s success will be finalized. The affable, well-respected face of the fundraiser is retiring effective May 31. The part-time employee is passing the torch to Kathryn Bergen, who has already come on board and will fill a full-time position of events and volunteer coordinator.

$4 million-plus

The 33rd annual BOLT, held last month, catapulted the net-proceeds figure to more than $4 million during Schulte’s 20-year tenure. Entering this year’s event on April 24, the tally during Schulte’s first 19 years stood at more than $3.9 million. “This year’s figures aren’t finalized yet, but it’s safe to say we’ve netted over four million dollars in the past twenty years,” Schulte said in a May 1 phone interview.

The 20-plus items on this year’s live auction included a 2006 Jeep, which brought $5,500 and was donated by Sid Dillon, and an orthodontic package donated by Drs. Robert Glenn and Elizabeth Katzberg. That brought $5,000. That’s the kind of supportive bidding that each year has fueled the success of one of the city’s biggest fundraisers.

Generous donors

Looking back on the past 20 years, Schulte said she “learned a lot about people” – generous donors whom she knew she could count on. “I’ve made some wonderful connections and had the pleasure of working with some great companies and vendors,” she said. “It’s been a truly enjoyable experience.”

This year’s $150-per-plate event drew 650 patrons and was considered a sellout.

In the printed programs distributed at BOLT, the Rev. James J. Meysenburg, chief administrative officer at Pius X, said of Schulte: “I can’t thank her enough for all she has done to lead our BOLT efforts and to support our school and students who are so dear to her heart.”

Expansion

Last year’s BOLT raised $293,000, of which $225,000 was raised at the main event and $68,000 through an “extra ask.” Part of the revenue allowed the high school to begin the $5.5 million Monsignor James D. Dawson Learning Center construction project, and $75,000 went to the Pius X Booster Club to help support co-curricular activities.

The expansion, soon to emerge on the northwest corner of the campus, is to include the Monsignor Ivan F. Vap Industrial Arts Center. Groundbreaking was held May 1.

The new addition is projected to open in the fall of 2019.

Retiree’s plans

The BOLT leader’s impending exit comes on the heels of her husband Norm’s recent retirement after a lengthy career at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The Schultes plan to travel extensively and avoid Nebraska’s winters. That new journey in life starts with a sojourn to Wilmington, North Carolina, next winter.

Mrs. Schulte also plans, on a limited scale, to continue her wedding-planning sideline. She has also served as a consultant for non-profits such as the Lied Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, Bright Lights, City Impact and Lighthouse. The Schultes are former Lied Center docents and plan to stay connected with community causes.

Their son, Matthew, is also an active volunteer whose causes include Catholic Social Services and Knights of Columbus-sponsored fish fries.

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