For the 17th time in as many years, approximately a thousand alumni and friends of the University of British Columbia will gather at the Vancouver Convention Centre bright and early tomorrow morning to reconnect over breakfast and raise a sizable sum of money for UBC Thunderbird teams.
Founded in 1999 by golf team alumnus Marty Zlotnik, the $200 per plate UBC Millennium Scholarship Breakfast was on overnight success in its inaugural year, debuting as the best-attended and most profitable fundraising event in the history of Canadian university sport. With the University matching all proceeds, the breakfast has netted over $500,000 annually. Last year’s event pushed the endowed totals for student-athlete scholarships over the $11 million mark.
The 2015 ZLC Millennium Scholarship Breakfast will feature a live on-stage conversation between CTV sportscaster Perry Solkowski and special guest Christine Sinclair, who as the iconic captain of Canada’s National Women’s Soccer Team will soon lead her team into global competition as Canada plays host to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The event will also feature a welcome from UBC president, Arvind Gupta, who has become a familiar face at Thunderbird home games this past season.
“This event, more than any other, demonstrates the passion that UBC Thunderbirds alumni have for their former teams and for the student-athletes who now follow in their footsteps,” says Professor Gupta. “I have met some truly wonderful friends and alumni of UBC at the games and am looking forward to meeting more of them at this year’s breakfast.”
Thanks to financial services firm ZLC stepping forward this year as title sponsor, the event appears destined to remain a model for university athletics fundraising and alumni engagement across Canada.
“It’s been a marquee event from the very beginning,” says Ashley Howard, managing director UBC Athletics and Recreation. “The keys to its success are the additional support from the University and the ability for attendees to direct the matched proceeds from their ticket purchase to the team of their choice. Not only that, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for alumni to remain engaged with their university and spend an enjoyable morning with former team mates.”
The breakfast has featured numerous well-known guest speakers including 1964 US Open golf champion Ken Venturi; Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean; former Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke; current Canucks president Trevor Linden and Canadian women’s hockey legend and five-time Olympic medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.
Since the inception of the breakfast, the Thunderbirds have won more national championships, produced more award winners and more Academic All-Canadians than any Canadian university athletic department. With last weekend’s dual CIS Championship wins for the men’s and women’s swim teams, the Thunderbirds are up to a CIS-leading 93 national titles, along with eight NAIA national championships.