Saying the greatest gift his father ever gave him was his faith, Tony Schmidt presented Thomas More Prep-Marian High School with a gift of $500,000 from the foundation bearing his parents’ names.

It’s the first of two such announcements in the community this week. This afternoon, Fort Hays State University will have an announcement of its own regarding support from the Bob and Pat Schmidt Foundation.

Bob Schmidt was chairman of the board of Eagle Communications, and he and his wife, Pat, were well-known philanthropists in Hays. The Schmidt name appears on many places in recognition of their contributions to Fort Hays State University, Hays Medical Center and the community including Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center and Dreiling-Schmidt Cancer Institute at HaysMed.

Bob Schmidt died Aug. 8. Pat Schmidt died in August 2015.

The donation from the Schmidt Foundation will provide funds for unrestricted use to the private Catholic school’s Endowment Foundation. It’s a much-needed gift, said Troy Ruda, TMP advancement director.

The school’s largest fundraising arm, the St. Thomas More Society, has a goal of $750,000 to fund the year’s expected operating costs. Donations received or pledged as of Monday total just more than $453,000, according to the school, leaving a deficit of nearly $314,000.

“It’s gotten harder and harder to reach our goal for the St. Thomas More Society, with the economy being one of the things impacting everything,” Ruda said.

The society was started five years ago to help the school offer junior high education and to move from being tuition based to stewardship based. It received much support initially, Ruda said, but those five-year pledges are expiring now.

“Everything we ask for is for that budget, and it’s a struggle every year to get to that budget ever since we became a school based on stewardship — meaning the generosity of others — versus tuition,” he said.

Ruda said despite the difficulties, the school is on solid financial ground.

“Now we have some experts on all our advisory councils and endowment board that are helping us with our investments, and we’ve been operating in the black now for a number of years,” he said.

The TMP Endowment Foundation has total assets of more than $7.8 million, according to information provided by the school.

Approximately 5 percent of those assets are paid to operational costs for the school on a quarterly basis.

The school’s 2018 ACE Auction will be announced after the beginning of the year. Last year, the event raised more than $505,000.

Tony Schmidt, Lawrence, spoke at the reception of his family’s value on faith and the church, back to his ancestors who traveled from Russia 141 years ago to reminiscing about attending Mass every day with his grandmother.

TMP was always close to his father’s heart, he said.

“He’d be pleased to know that this gift I’m delivering will help forward the mission here at TMP. Like you, he believed in Catholic education, in faith and ethical principles and leadership,” he said.

“I told the bishop at dad’s funeral that probably the greatest gift my father ever gave me was my faith,” he said.