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Sold-out gala raises scholarship funds for future Timberwolves

October 9, 2023

As the theme of this year’s 60th Northwood University International Auto Show demonstrated, it was a fantastic weekend to “CONNECT” in Midland, as the show attracted car enthusiasts from near and far who admired the latest auto designs and innovations.

On Friday evening, Northwood held a sold-out gala at the Midland Country Club to raise scholarship funds for students who want to major in Northwood’s Automotive Marketing and Management program. This popular event also broke a new record for total sponsorships.

“The generosity of our alumni and donors is humbling, and their loyal support of Northwood is inspiring,” stated President Kent MacDonald. “The funds raised over this weekend will have a transformative effect on future graduates committed to free enterprise, limited government, and personal responsibility. At Northwood, we believe these are the foundation upon which we contribute to more prosperous communities.”

Over the weekend, visitors could admire, and in some cases sit behind the wheel of, hundreds of vehicles across 65 brands, from Ford to Ferrari, and many more from the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Many innovative and cutting-edge aftermarket suppliers were also on display.

The exhibit that attracted the most attention was a hyper-car collection featuring a McLaren Elva, McLaren Senna, Porsche 918 Spyder, and Hennessy Venom F5.

“We wanted to inspire others to ‘connect’ with students and car fanatics from all different places,” stated General Chair Cole Briggs, a graduate student from Port Huron. “Plenty of business opportunities and friendships are started with their first connections and building a network, and we wanted to incorporate Northwood’s role by connecting students and businesses alike, as well as bringing people together at our positive, family-friendly event.”

More than 450 students entirely planned and executed Northwood’s Auto Show. Each vehicle display was designed and hosted by Northwood students, who collaborated with various manufacturers to share information about their brands. They took care of every detail, from collaborating with respective vendors, creating the schedule, picking up and delivering vehicles, designing booths, and welcoming thousands of visitors.

Following an exclusive preview event for donors on Thursday night, the show shifted into high gear, starting with a VIP panel and networking opportunities for students on Friday. Panelists included Paul Bearden, regional manager of Honda; Nikki Paschall, marketing lead at Michigan CAT; Collin Shaw, chief operating officer for Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association; Lori Wittman, president of retail solutions at Cox Automotive; and Mike Schwab, president and CEO at NGK Spark Plugs USA, Inc.

Friday evening’s Auto Show Gala at the Midland Country Club — made possible by generous sponsors, including Legend Sponsor CDK Global — featured a silent auction and an evening of live music and dancing. This year’s gala theme was Northwood Rocks, and preliminary estimates show the event raised a record-setting amount of more than $365,000, with an additional investment from CDK Global of $200,000.

Before Friday’s festivities, an Outstanding Alumni Awards banquet honored seven special Timberwolves: Regina Brickl, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin; Jeff and Joe Cauley, West Bloomfield; Brian Harris, Harper Woods; Jim O’Polka, Middle River, Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania; Dan Reimer, Midland; and Ryan Talaga, New Hudson.

On Saturday, First Lady Mary-Ellen MacPhee hosted a Women in Automotive Roundtable featuring Susan Michaels, OEM & Partners Development executive for CDK Global; Alicia Thomas, vice president of acquisitions at Capital Automotive; Rita Bragg, vice president of acquisitions at Capital Automotive; Sarah Vantine, vice president of sales at Quantum5; Lisa Kusey-Rechsteiner, Graff Chevrolet partner/owner-operator; Heather Sattler, OEM sales at CDK Global; Jen Cole, vice president of OEM Business at CDK Global; Kathy Gilbert, senior director at CDK Global; Tammy Horner, OEM director of sales at CDK Global; and Diane Schmidt, program manager at CDK Global.

Also on Saturday, the Northwood community came together to unveil a bronze sculpture of its founders, Arthur and Johann Turner and Gary and Willa Stauffer. The ceremony featured heartfelt messages from Jeffrey Stauffer, Gary and Willa Stauffer’s son, and President Kent MacDonald.

On Sunday, classic car enthusiasts came from all over to gather for a Cars & Coffee event.

From planning to execution, the Northwood University International Auto Show is entirely run by students who serve on an executive board. Other members of this year’s E-board include:

• Sabastien Upham of East Lansing — Logistics Chair

• Sawyer Jordan of Midland— Logistics Vice Chair

• Riley Hayer of Clare — Finance Chair

• Connor Bachteal of St. Joseph — Finance Vice Chair

• Jordan Barker of Hartland — Donor Relations Chair

• Brooke Engelhardt of Saline — Marketing Chair

• Tyler Tidwell of Port Huron — Marketing Innovations Chair

• Vanessa Collins of Clio — Social Media Chair

• Katrina Ness of Birmingham — Public Relations Chair

• Alex Mazon of New York, New York — Operations Chair

• Nick Salamone of Northville — Domestic Divisional

• Matisse Dornier-Duff of Whitehall — European Divisional

• Sam Caldwell of Romeo — Asian Divisional

• Owen Hayes of Whitehall — Specialty Divisional

• Miranda Prieur of Novi — Aftermarket Chair

• Ethan Moots of Brown City — Aftermarket Vice Chair

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