Randy York's N-Sider
All Nebraska coaches, virtually all Husker student-athletes and the vast majority of Big Red fans know what the true but mostly invisible strength of Nebraska Athletics is – the generosity of a loyal base of donors. They’re the ones who invest heavily in facilities and improvements that keep Nebraska at the forefront of the student-athlete experience. Two of the most prominent and generous family donors – Tom and Mary Hansen and Ernie and Jan Thayer – will receive major awards Friday night when the 2013 Nebraska Football Hall-of-Fame Class is inducted at a private banquet inside Memorial Stadium.
The Hansen family will receive the Lyell Bremser Merit Award, and the Thayer family will receive the Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award. “It’s always fun to honor the generosity of our donors, and what makes honoring these two families so exciting is knowing how much it means to both families, yet also knowing they would never, ever tell anyone about the honor,” NU Associate AD Paul Meyers said. “These are two of the most humble families you will ever meet. They’re ordinary people who do extraordinary things for a University they sincerely love. They give generously without any expectation in return.”
Tom Hansen is the president of a Papillion-based construction company, and wife Mary serves as the food service director for the Bellevue Public Schools. “Tom and Mary are such impressive people,” said Meyers, who heads the Huskers Athletic Fund, the fundraising arm of Nebraska Athletics. “They’re longtime contributors who have steadily invested more and more in this program to help student-athletes and young people achieve their hopes and dreams. They’ve built strong relationships with Nebraska Athletics. To them, it’s become a way of life. Their daughter and son were brought up going to football games and being a part of this, so I see great pride in them getting this award. They could not be more deserving, and most people around here would probably call them your everyday, ordinary best friends.”
Ernie Thayer is the owner of The Agricultural Land Company after previously serving as president of Grand Island Trust and Financial Services and Commercial National Bank. Wife Jan Thayer was inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame eight years ago. A registered dietician and nursing home administrator, she also received the Chairman’s Award earlier this year from the American Health Care Association.
“Ernie and Jan have been connected to Nebraska in so many different ways,” Meyers said. “They have three sons and one played football at Nebraska. Jan has been influential in the state of Nebraska for many, many years. Both are successful business people. They’re hard-working people, and their kids are hard-working people. They’re great contributors to this program in many important ways – from a voluntary basis to a financial basis. With the Thayers, I’m not sure you can find a whole family more committed to every element of the University of Nebraska. It’s who they are, and it shows by their attendance at games and their commitment to important projects. Everything they do has revolved in some fashion around Nebraska Athletics. They support everything. In the 20 years I’ve been here, Jan was one of the first donors I met, and she’s still just a breath of fresh air.”
The Hansens are members of the Director’s Club and Touchdown Club. Their donations range from using the company plane to assist with recruiting to the installation work for the red brick “N” wall near the opening of the football Tunnel Walk. Hansen Construction also was the masonry contractor for the North and East Stadium expansion projects.
The Thayers are members of the Husker Award Club and the Rebounders Club that supports men’s basketball. They are lifetime financial contributors to the University of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory in the new East Stadium is named in their honor.
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