“Lettuce” Have Edible Fun at the Fair!

June 26, 2018

Del Mar, CA… Thirty minutes before the gates to the San Diego County Fair open to the public on Plant*Grow*Eat (PGE) days, busloads of fresh produce-laden elementary students hop eagerly onto the infield Farm where enthusiastic volunteers judge their lovingly grown-from-seed lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, nasturtiums, beets and other edibles. Not every young farmer wins first place, but everyone receives a ribbon, warm accolades for their achievement and a hearty smile from the judges before they set off to pet animals, learn more about agriculture and nutrition from the ground up and, for some children, enjoy their first glimpse of the ocean.

Waiting to greet students on June 22, 2018 were people from organizations who sponsored buses from San Diego area Title I schools through Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s PGE Bus Transportation Program. The program funds buses for schools that could otherwise not afford to transport students to the Fair. Some sponsors, such as Teresa Palzkill, Immediate Past President of Les Dames de Escoffier, served as judges. Others were on-site to enjoy the fruits of their donations as seen in the eyes of happy children proud of their crops.

Ira Sharp, Grants Committee Chairman of the Del Mar Foundation, which has donated to the program for two consecutive years, said, “It’s such a kick to see the kids’ faces light up, even if their plant never grew beyond a little stem. Some of these children have never been honored before. Here, the judges take the time to talk to them and praise them. I love checking out their veggies and seeing the pure joy.”

The Del Mar Kiwanis contingent of Steve Gardella, Relda Colvin and Chuck Phillips were as […]

Don Diego’s Gala-Licious Dinner & Concert was a Sweet Success!

June 4, 2018

Del Mar, CA… Billed as “A Night of Sweet Treats Under the Stars,” Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 7, 2018 Dinner and Concert Gala at the “How Sweet It Is” 2018 San Diego County Fair did not disappoint. From the minute Gala-goers entered the whimsical Fair entrance, then walked into the candy land-decorated Infield Pavilion devoted exclusively to them, met and mingled with scholarship recipients, enjoyed gourmet small plates, and ended the night with VIP Grandstand seating at the Kansas concert, they were treated to an evening beyond compare.

Executive Director Chana Mannen relates, “The genuine stars of the night were our amazing 2018 Scholars, who together share $72,500 in college scholarships. Also in starring roles were Gala sponsors, guests and auction donors whose support enables these 30 ambitious students from throughout the San Diego area to matriculate at highly regarded colleges around the country in pursuit of their career goals.”

Displaying a maturity reflecting their selection in a highly competitive year, students made it a point to find and thank individual Board members for their generosity.

In a brief program, Vice Chairman and Gala emcee Karen Tanz introduced the students, each of whom shared their college and major with the crowd. Spontaneous applause rose up as the students recited their ambitions to become veterinarians, biochemists, agriculture educators and other professionals in diverse fields.

Board member and exuberant auctioneer Frederick Schenk ramped up the bidding for iconic items and opportunities such as a Blue Ribbon Lamb and a Del Mar Thoroughbred Club horseracing Turf Club membership for two.

The substantial amount of money raised at the Gala will help fund scholarships for future leaders of our community, Mannen says. “Our […]

Don Diego’s Top Scholar, Angelina Manasan, is “Positively” the Best

June 4, 2018

Del Mar, CA… Omaha-based Creighton University, the prestigious destination for Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s top 2018 recipient, Angelina (Gigi) Manasan of San Diego, says it offers a highly ranked education “where students learn to become leaders through service to others.” That makes it the ideal school for Angelina, who has epitomized leading through service – and adversity – throughout her young life.

Faced with multiple, daunting, health conditions starting as an infant, Gigi has turned obstacles into opportunities to help others – especially medically challenged children – and she’s done it with a huge smile on her face, a lei around her neck and positivity in her heart. She established her scholarship eligibility by performing hula with Na Pua Ilima O’Kehaulani at the San Diego County Fair for more than ten years. She was unanimously chosen to receive the top $5,000 Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship plus the coveted $5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship through her interview with the Don Diego selection committee.

Chairman Roxana Foxx says that the committee members were impressed and moved by Gigi’s personal story, her accomplishments, her selfless desire to give back and her incredible resilience. She notes, “Gigi’s eclectic array of academic, extracurricular, work and volunteer achievements makes one ponder how this remarkable young woman can fit so many activities into her life and do everything so well while battling serious chronic conditions. She is simply awe-inspiring.”

Gigi is as humble as she is extraordinary. As a stellar Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) student who incorporates dancing, singing and theatre into her STEM + Arts = STEAM repertoire, Gigi was involved with Girls Who Code, Robotics and other high-tech efforts at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, where she earned a 4.2 GPA […]

Bid On Fair Collectibles and Help Send Students to College – Don Diego’s Online Autograph Auction Runs Through July 4, 2018

June 1, 2018

Del Mar, CA… It’s time to get your bid on! Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s Online Auction of autographed guitars and other signed collectibles has opened at Bidding closes at midnight on July 4, 2018.

Among the iconic items offered are guitars autographed by the 2016 San Diego County Fair Grandstand performers and by popular groups and individuals. Each item offers a buy-it-now option.

Auction proceeds benefit the Foundation’s educational programs, so when you win the bid of a guitar signed by a legendary musician, your donation is music to the ears of future leaders of our community. In 2018, 30 outstanding students throughout the San Diego area are sharing $72,500 in college scholarships to pursue their career goals.

The Don Diego Scholarship Foundation was named for Don Diego, AKA Tom Hernandez, who served as the Fair’s welcoming goodwill ambassador from 1947-1984. To date since its inception in 1986, the Foundation has awarded approximately $862,000 in scholarships to 204 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at and

Angelina Manasan

San Diego
$5,000 Exhibitor/Participant Scholarship
$5,000 Spanjian Family Scholarship
Creighton University

“Performing Hawaiian Hula Dancing at the Fair exposed audiences to other cultures of dance, music and art while enabling me to win these two top scholarships. This $10,000 award will make it possible for me to attend college and major in Math. Thank you, Don Diego!”

Hailey Baldwin

$5,000 FFA Scholarship
$2,500 Jr. Livestock Auction Scholarship
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

“My FFA leadership experience has given me the opportunity to educate my peers and my community about how the agriculture industry greatly affects everyone’s livelihoods and quality of life. I am excited to major in Agricultural Science.”

Tierra Mathews

Valley Center
$5,000 4-H Scholarship
$2,500 Jr. Livestock Auction Scholarship
Colorado State University

“When I joined 4-H eight years ago to show my chickens, I never imagined the impact it would have on me. 4-H has changed my life, from the many people I known, animals I have raised and memories I have made at the Fair. I am better because of my participation.”

Sabrina Drobeck

San Diego
$5,000 Employee Scholarship
UC Berkeley

“I began working as a Bridal Bazaar Model at the Del Mar Fairgrounds at age eight. The experience has helped me in every aspect of my life, school and work. I have learned the value of hard work, perseverance and staying committed to my goals.”