Breakfast of Champions raises $583,665 for Mercer Island schools

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation raised $583,665 at the annual Breakfast of Champions on April 25, in front of what Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano called “the largest group I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming.”

Aaron Kornblum, the “voice of Mercer Island,” hosted the festivities in the Mercer Island High School gym with record attendance of more than 600 people. There were about 570 people at last year’s event, which raised $503,523.

Foundation Director Penny Yantis said the work on behalf of Island schools is not done yet, citing the upcoming GiveBIG event on May 10, an afternoon luncheon on May 24 and other events at Island schools next month. She said the fundraising total from the Breakfast was “spectacular.”

“It’s amazing what this community does for our schools,” Yantis said.

The district is facing budget cuts next year that could “reduce parent communication and administrative support, impact curriculum and teacher development, and will lead to fuller classrooms,” according to the event program.

Foundation Board Co-President Cliff Sharples said that with the state of Washington’s underfunding of basic education and because the Legislature doesn’t yet have a solution, “we as a community must do what we’ve always done and find our own answer.”

The Breakfast of Champions was an uplifting affair that was well attended by elected officials and community leaders, including Rep. Judy Clibborn, Rep. Tana Senn, City Councilmembers and School Board Directors.

Three remarkable graduates of Mercer Island High School — Patricia Coffey (’79), Leslie Hendricks Fall (’81) and Adrian Hanauer (’84) — were honored at the event with Pathfinder awards.

Coffey and Hendricks Fall accepted their awards in person, and talked about growing up on the Island and the lasting impacts of their friends and teachers. Both have gone on to careers in health and technology.

Coffey is a program advisor and leader of the Health Technologies for Women and Children Group at PATH, a nonprofit global health organization.

Hendricks Fall is a pediatrician and adjunct professor at Dartmouth College. She is the co-founder and executive director of MedU, transforming medical education by bringing virtual case studies and online learning to medical students.

Hanauer, the majority owner of the reigning 2016 MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC, taped his remarks after the team’s 3-0 win in Los Angeles Sunday. Hanauer sent another Sounder and notable MIHS graduate to accept the award on his behalf: the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year, Jordan Morris.

MIHS senior Isabel Hernandez Rodriguez was presented with the Foundation’s annual $1,500 scholarship. She plans to attend Barnard College and pursue a career in medicine or public health.

The Foundation also honored Plano, who will retire at the end of the school year, presenting him with a poster of Mercer Island signed by students in the district. Plano said that he looks forward to the Breakfast every year, as it showcases the belief in the “transformative power of education” and reflects the values of the Mercer Island community.

Those who were unable to attend the Breakfast can still make contributions online through the Mercer Island Schools Foundation website at

About 575 people attended this year’s fundraising breakfast for the Mercer Island Schools Foundation. Katie Metzger/staff photo

The Mercer Island Drum Line, along with the High School Jazz Band, performed at the Breakfast of Champions. Katie Metzger/staff photo

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation provided a complimentary breakfast and inspiring program to donors at the Breakfast of Champions. Katie Metzger/staff photo

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