22nd Annual Discovery Dinner Earns $570,000 for Student Scholarships

News Story: April 1, 2011

Robert Dilenschneider and Cindi Bigelow Receive Discovery Awards

From left, honorees Robert L. Dilenschneider and Cindi Bigelow with President John Petillo.  To watch a slideshow from the Discovery Dinner, click here. For video, click here.

Sacred Heart University’s 22nd Annual Discovery Awards and Scholarship Dinner on Wednesday, April 27th, broke records, garnering more than $570,000 for scholarship assistance—the most raised by the Discovery Dinner in its 22 year history.  More than 250 attended the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, which honored community leaders Cindi Bigelow and Robert L. Dilenschneider. Over the course of its history, the Discovery Dinner has raised millions of dollars for student financial aid.

The special night traditionally honors notable individuals while raising funds for SHU’s Discovery Scholar Grants program, which provides a tuition-free education to low-income students in Fairfield County. The Discovery Scholar Grants, established in 2008, allow Sacred Heart University to make financial assistance available to SHU students who live in Fairfield County and have an annual family income below $50,000. The plan provides each qualified student with 100 percent tuition coverage.

Once again this year, the event was emceed by television’s Dave Price, who was the weather anchor for the CBS' "The Early Show" for 8 years and covered major weather events for the "CBS Evening News."  The Discovery Dinner cochairs are Sacred Heart University Trustees Linda McMahon (Greenwich) and Bill Mitchell (Westport).

Student speakers included Tony Jean-Louis, a junior accounting major from Norwalk, and Stephanie Valentino, a senior criminal justice major from Queens, who shared the value of their Sacred Heart University education. A member of the Class of 2007, Amanda Pape, who was a stand-out basketball player during her years at SHU, shared her perspectives as well.

Robert L. Dilenschneider, a public relations professional for more than 40 years, is frequently called upon by the media to provide commentary and strategic public relations insights on major news stories. He has counseled top corporations, professional groups, trade associations and educational institutions, and has assisted clients in dealing with regulatory agencies, labor unions and consumer groups, among others.

In October 1991, he founded the Dilenschneider Group, which provides communication services, counsel and support in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions and crisis communications to marketing, government affairs and international media.

Mr. Dilenschneider is widely published and the author of more than a dozen books, including A Briefing for Leaders, Moses: C.E.O., 50 Plus!—Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life, and his latest, the AMA Handbook of Public Relations. He is currently writing a book about notable second-in-commands and the role they have played throughout history.

In 2010, Mr. Dilenschneider was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award for “a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishments in the field of communications” from the Ohio State University School of Communication. In recognition of his contribution in promoting New York City, he received the City’s Big Apple Award. In 2001, he received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service degree from Muskingum College.  He is a resident of Darien, CT.

The evening’s second honoree, Cindi Bigelow, joined Bigelow Tea, the national market leader of specialty teas, in 1984 and became president in 2004. Founded in 1945 by her grandmother, Ruth Campbell Bigelow, the company remains 100 percent family owned and operated.

Fulfilling one of the company’s missions to be a “good corporate citizen,” Ms. Bigelow’s dedication to community programs remains tireless.  

The Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge, which she founded, has raised $600,000 since 1988 for local charities. She spearheaded the building and development in 1996 of Sandcastle Playground, a large, wooden village playground at Jennings Beach in Fairfield that took 2,500 volunteers and $150,000 to build.

Cindi Bigelow sponsored a Habitat for Humanity home in Bridgeport, entirely managed and built by women and volunteers each year on local building projects. She and her executive team work annually on the Kennedy Center’s Adopt-a-Home project.  She has served on the Bridgeport and Fairfield YMCA boards for eight years, sits on the board of the Bridgeport Regional Council and serves on the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Committee, devoted to the economic and social health of the community. She is a resident of Fairfield, CT.

She spends countless hours in area school systems speaking with high school students, and provides guidance and insight to students at Sacred Heart and Fairfield Universities.

SHU’s Discovery Dinner invites the community to recognize and celebrate the gifts of caring and accomplished people—those who embody the tradition of the University in their lives. They represent a wide diversity of professions but hold in common a passion for excellence and a devotion to their fellow citizens. Each is truly an educator showing by example the inestimable value of learning, leadership and service.

  To watch video from the Discovery Dinner, CLICK HERE.  To watch a slideshow from this event, CLICK HERE.