A Global Celebration

“I’m glad I could use getting old as an excuse to raise money for the UW Odyssey Project,” quipped 95-year-old Bob Auerbach, “and I plan to do it again for my 100th!”

For two hours on April 12th, Bob greeted hundreds of family members and friends, scientific colleagues and former students, donors, and Odyssey staff and students from around the world.

Flanked by balloons, poster boards, a giant cake, and a map showing places he had been, Bob noted, “I was overwhelmed by the support and friendship of so many people on the occasion of my 95th birthday.  I am exceedingly thankful and appreciative of all the contributions and participation in the party on April 12th at the Odyssey South Madison Partnership space.  Many, many thanks.”

We give many, many thanks to Bob, whose generosity inspired so many people to donate to our Family Fund in his honor. We are well on the way to making the match! When $100,000 from donors officially gets recorded, Bob will honor his pledge to add $100,000 to the Family Fund, and so will Emily Auerbach and Keith Meyer. Because of those two matches, gifts to the Family Fund for the past few months have had triple the impact, including those made for Day of the Badger.

As partygoers arrived, the sounds of indigenous Ecuadorian music greeted their ears. One of the musicians was the husband of Aida Inunca, from last year’s Odyssey class. Alumni Anthony Ward ’04 and Corey Saffold ’06 formed part of the second musical group of the evening, playing R & B hits and doing freestyle rap about Odyssey’s power to educate and change lives. The audience applauded when Emily Auerbach not only thanked the musicians but also mentioned that Anthony now has his master’s degree from UW while Corey is just finishing his first year at UW Law School.

Before everyone sang Happy Birthday, Char Braxton ’06 shared a poem she wrote for the occasion. Char reminded listeners of Bob’s past as a Holocaust survivor and noted that Odyssey students from all over the world—from Mexico, Morocco, Tibet, Ireland, and Iraq, as well as from Bucky Badger Land—have benefited from his generosity:

The lives from around the world that you have invested in are many. . . .

Odyssey students have faced deep and dark trauma, from escaping gunfire to walking barefoot 15 miles each day to reach a village school in West Africa to receive an education.

Odyssey Dad, you lifted up our spirits with your music, smile, and contributions.

Calling Bob “generous, charitable, loving, humble, handsome, and fun,” Char ended by saying Happy Birthday in English, Spanish, and Chinese, her major at UW.

We all hope to see you on April 12, 2029, for Bob’s 100th birthday benefit!

Click below to see highlights from the celebration!

View photos from the event

Photo credit: Dynae Allice Photography
*More photos available by request. Please contact Em Azad at emily.azad@wisc.edu.