Don Diego Gala at the Fair Sparkles with Surprises


The festive crowd attending Don Diego Scholarship Foundation’s June 15 dinner and Smokey Robinson concert at the San Diego County Fair enjoyed a shimmering evening replete with surprise auction items, a surprise donation opportunity and three surprise donors establishing inaugural “Named Scholarships.”

The whimsical décor of the Infield Pavilion provided a colorful backdrop for delectable dining, presentation of 2019 scholars, and a lively auction featuring such unique opportunities as Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Turf Club membership, 50-yard-line tickets to an upcoming USC-Oregon football game, and an adventure flight in the “Yellow Peril” two-seater piloted by board member Rear Admiral (Ret.) Russ Penniman.

To celebrate surpassing $1 million in total funds raised over the years, the board unveiled a new Matching Named Scholarship opportunity, which will kickstart efforts to begin raising its second million to support future outstanding students pursuing ambitious college and career goals. A donation of $25,000 or more will be matched by the Foundation, thus doubling the value of the donor’s perpetual Named Scholarship.

When board member/auctioneer Frederick Schenck announced a special gala-night-only two-for-one donation match, board member Glenn Drown immediately stepped up to the challenge. To widespread applause, he enthusiastically pledged $25,000 to create a $75,000 Bill and Elizabeth Tulloch Family Scholarship in honor of his Ramona family’s longtime agricultural roots. Then board member George Karetas, hugging his wife Patricia, immediately stood, again to acclaim, to announce two additional $25,000 pledges to create a $75,000 Jeannie and Gerry Ranglas Scholarship honoring these San Diego philanthropists as well as a $75,000 Patricia and George Karetas Scholarship.

Top $10,000 Scholar Russell Sorbo spoke on behalf of 2019’s 23 recipients, saying, “Thank you so very much for your generosity and this great opportunity!”

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 $1,040,000 in scholarships to 257 students and in agriculture education grants. More information is at

Photos by McKenzie Images