At least for a few days, it will be gospel legend Sandi Patty’s daughter who will be queen.
Jenn Helvering, daughter of Sandi Patty and John Helvering, appeared shocked when she was named 2009 Homecoming Queen at Anderson University on Thursday in Reardon Auditorium.
"I really was very surprised," the AU senior said afterward. "I didn’t expect it at all. I got the e-mail, and I thought it was a mistake."
Helvering said she was sad that she would be gone all weekend. She travels nationally with a Christian music program called The Revolve Tour.
"I’m sure for most of her life, Jenn has been known as 'Sandi Patty’s daughter,'" said the singer and former Anderson resident by e-mail Thursday.
"But every day, I get to be Jenn Helvering’s mom. I’m especially proud of that today."
John Helvering, who attended the event, agreed.
"It was extremely exciting to see (the honor go to) someone that did not work for this title," he said. "But it’s very well deserved."
Senior Jason White, from Madisonville, Ky., was named 2009 Homecoming King. White is an accounting major, social club Dativus president, serves on the University Leadership Council and is involved with SIFE (Student In Free Enterprise).
Family of another national music figure from Anderson were also on hand. Mike and Tammy McLaughlin accepted the 2009 Distinguished Young Alumni Award for their son, singer-songwriter Jon McLaughlin, during the ceremonies.
The theme of this year’s homecoming is "Stay Connected for Good."
Also honored were Ray Freer, AU professor emeritus and former art department chairman, with the Distinguished Service Award; Ken and Grada Lockhart, with the John H. Kane Loyalty Award; AU freshman Jyllian Kumfer, with the Alumni Council Scholarship Award; and Christine Densmore Young, director of resident programming at Bethany Pointe, with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Becky Archibald will receive the Outstanding Music Alumni Award during the Homecoming Concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Park Place Church of God. Admission is free.
Anderson native McLaughlin, who studied music at AU, is working on his third album for Island Def Jam Records.
"We’re honored that all of our children have come through AU," said Mike McLaughlin. "But Jon’s experience here is one that has certainly impacted his life."
Archibald, a 1983 AU alum and award-winning jazz and classical pianist, said, "It was quite a surprise when they called me. I was very, very happy and honored."
Young, originally from Detroit, worked as a missionary and preschool teacher before accepting her current position with Bethany Pointe Health Campus. Her husband, Jerry, has been pastor at the Christian Congregation Church in Alexandria for 34 years.
"I’m humbled, in a word,"Young said. "Basically, I feel like I represent and accept this honor on behalf of all the AU grads who have graduated to a life of service."
A native of Port Huron, Mich., Freer was a professor of art at AU and later chairman of the department. Retired in 2008, he is event coordinator for the Anderson Center for the Arts.
"I’m not sure I deserve it," Freer said. "I used to come here when I was an elementary school child for camp meeting, so I’m really pleased to have this kind of award."
Ken Lockhart founded several insurance companies during a near 40-year span, and Grada taught in public schools for 11 years. Ken has served as a Church of God board member, and Grada serves on the Town and Gown Steering Committee.
"John Kane was a friend from years back that used to come to our home church," Ken Lockhart said. "To receive an award in his name is really quite an honor."
Kumfer, a graduate of Columbia City High School, is the daughter of AU alums and grew up attending AU homecomings. She intends to work to help AIDS patients in other countries.
"My family has been involved with the Church of God of Anderson for so long," Kumfer said, "it’s just a blessing to be able to be part of this community."
2009 Homecoming Court members
Seniors: Caity Stuart, Bonnie Lanning, Brett Sears, Jenn Helvering, Thomas Newell, Thomas Neyer, Jason White and Phillip Crawshaw
Juniors: Naomi Millet and Caleb Hatch
Sophomores: Liisa Kilmer and Andy Harper
Freshmen: Brandy Buchanan and Merle Klein
Alumni Award Honorees, 2009
- Christine Densmore Young, Class of 1976, Distinguished Alumni Award
- Jon McLaughlin, Class of 2005, Distinguished Young Alumni Award
- Ray Freer, Class of 1965, Distinguished Service Award
- Ken and Grada Lockhart, Classes of 1957 and 1955, respectively, John H. Kane Loyalty Award
- Jyllian Kumfer, freshman, 2009 Alumni Council Scholarship Award
- Becky Archibald, Class of 1983, Outstanding Music Alumni Award
Friday, October 9
7:30 p.m.: School of Music Homecoming Concert and presentation of Outstanding Music Alumni Award, Park Place Church of God
7:30 and 10 p.m.: Cheap Thrills, Reardon Auditorium; $2.50 presale, $3 at the door
Saturday, October 10
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Street Fair, University Boulevard (rain location: Kardatzke Wellness Center)
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: RavenFest with andersonalums.com University Boulevard
2:30 and 7:30 p.m.: "Into the Woods," Byrum Hall. Admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors and military, $5 students; for information, call 641-4543; for tickets, call 641-4541
5-6 p.m.: Homecoming Reunion for the classes of 2004-09, Schield, Olt Student Center; no cost
6:30 p.m.: Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Dinner, Ruth Lilly Pavilion, Kardatzke Wellness Center; cost: $20
7:30 and 10 p.m.: " ’60s & ’70s" Encore, Reardon Auditorium; $2.50 presale, $3 at door
—Rodney Richey is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credits: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.