For more than three decades, longtime Santa Clarita Valley residents Richard and Marian Sandnes have embodied the definition of philanthropy, continually giving of themselves and striving to make this community a better place through acts of kindness and generosity.
Advocates for education, children’s services and the importance of family values, the Sandnes’ have dedicated much of their lives to helping others, and have had a profound impact in doing so.
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As a result, the College of the Canyons Foundation has named Richard and Marian Sandnes recipients of the college’s “Silver Spur” Community Service Award for 2012.
“This is the most important recognition that we at College of the Canyons can afford to anyone, and given the support that Richard and Marian have given to the college for so many years, it is only fitting that we honor and celebrate their contributions,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “They are truly unsung heroes and amazing role models, who do the right things for the right reasons, and help others in a quiet, consistent and significant way.”
Richard and Marian Sandnes are active supporters of several key projects and programs at the college, including the COC Foundation student scholarship program, the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program, the annual Silver Spur celebration and the COC Athletics department.
The couple’s relationship with College of the Canyons first began as football fans, when their son, all-conference safety Michael Sandnes, roamed the defensive backfield for the Cougars’ 1975 Western State Conference championship football team.
A natural leader and inspiration to all those he knew and played with, Michael tragically lost his battle with cancer in 1979 at the age of 21, just as his life was beginning to blossom.
In the years that followed, Richard and Marian continually looked for a meaningful way to honor their son, eventually deciding to establish an endowed scholarship fund at College of the Canyons dedicated to Michael’s memory, in 2005.
“Marian and I always wanted to do something for Mike and the college,” said Richard at the time. “We thought about it for many years, and we’ve reached a point in our lives where we can honor Mike and help others in the process. We’re confident this will help many College of the Canyons students in the future.”
By participating in the COC Foundation’s recent Bernard Osher Foundation matching grant initiative, the Sandnes’ have been able to significantly enhance the endowment’s value to the point where it now awards 11 annual $1,000 scholarships to COC student athletes studying kinesiology.
The Sandnes’ reach into this community also extends far beyond College of the Canyons. Richard and Marian are major supporters of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita, The Canyon Theatre Guild, the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Foundation and the SCV Child & Family Center.
Richard is also a member of the Bank of Santa Clarita’s founders group and an active member, and past trustee, of the Elks Lodge 1625, in Lancaster.
The annual College of the Canyons Silver Spur Celebration is traditionally held at a historic museum, club or well-known Los Angeles landmark each spring — and is considered to be one of the community’s most popular and elegant evening events.
The 2012 Silver Spur Celebration will take place Saturday, March 3, 2012, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Air Force One Pavilion located at 40 Presidential Drive, in Simi Valley.
The event begins at 6 p.m. and the dress code is black tie optional. The evening includes a dinner, live auction and a tribute video to the honoree. This year’s event is being co-chaired by Jeff Hacker and Randy Moberg, members of the COC Foundation Board of Directors.
Previous recipients of the Silver Spur award include Diana Cusumano, Myrna and Gary Condie, Harold and Jacquie Petersen, Wayne Crawford, Rita Garasi, Tom Veloz, Charlotte and Frank Kleeman, Gary Cusumano, Jay and Joyce Rodgers, Tom Lee, Lou Garasi, Michael Berger, Roberta Veloz, Dick Luechtefeld, Robert Ormsby, LaVerne Harris, John Hoskinson, Tom Dierckman, Scott and Ruth Newhall, Elisha “Aggie” Agajanian and Cliffie Stone.
For more information about the 2012 Silver Spur Award Ceremony, to purchase tickets or become an event sponsor, please contact the College of the Canyons Foundation at (661) 362-3434.