Rosa, Alyssa, Nikki and Josue Arias

Guests at Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 24, 2022 “Reunite & Celebrate” Gala and Sam Hunt Concert at the San Diego County Fair were the very first event-goers to enjoy “The Center” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Although the venue was indoors, the evening’s stars shown brightly as, one by one, Don Diego’s Class of 2022 Scholars sharing a total of $55,000 in college scholarships took to the stage to receive their awards from donors and tell the enthusiastic audience where they were headed: Duke, Purdue, South Dakota State, Cal Poly and UC Davis, among other universities; and their intended careers, including biomed scientist, conservation officer, interior architect, and even Don Diego’s first chef.

Top Scholar Ethan Rockwell, who won three scholarships totaling $11,000, spoke on behalf of his 17 peers as he told 200+ attendees, “We thank the donors so much for this high honor. The money will help immensely and we appreciate your faith in us.”

Before heading to the concert, guests mingled with students, enjoyed a gourmet dinner, and celebrated as presenters shared the incredible 36-year journey of the organization and equally incredible journey of retiring inaugural Executive Director, Chana Mannen. Among the many tributes, she received a proclamation from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declaring June 24, 2022 “Chana Mannen Day throughout San Diego County.”

To kickstart fundraising for future scholarships, unique items were auctioned off, including autographed guitars by Trace Adkins and Toby Keith, a blue ribbon lamb, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Turf Club memberships, and an AKC English Cream Golden Retriever puppy. The dog was purchased by the Rossi family who, in honor of the scholarships their twin sons Skylar and Carson received, named him Don Diego.

Capping off a festive evening after a two-year pandemic-caused hiatus, new Executive Director Ashley Colburn McCaughan thanking Gala guests, saying, “Your presence tonight and your ongoing contributions have enabled Don Diego to continue providing transformative scholarships and agriculture education opportunities to so many people, including myself, a 2005 scholarship recipient. We have much to celebrate as we look back and much to anticipate as we look ahead.”