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Brian Williams


Mater Dei Catholic High School is much closer to being saved from closure thanks to a donation from one of its most prominent alum, Brian Williams.

The news anchor turned out for his high school's fundraiser Saturday night at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands, which marked his first local public appearance since being suspended from NBC's Nightly News. According to the Asbury Park Press, Williams donated $50,000.

"This is Mater Dei. It's been a very, very important part of my life. I had four great years here. I did not know it then, but it was the last degree I'd ever earn," he told the Two River Times. "It's a wonderful school, and it should be open for a long time, for everybody."

Williams attended the gala with his wife, Jane Stoddard, where he was "warmly received" by the crowd of 455 people, which helped raise $95,000 for the Seraph's Fund. He graduated from Mater Dei in 1977.

"He had a lot of friends he went to school with," said fundraiser co-chair Maria Buzzanco. "He was happy to come back to the Shore Casino because he went to proms there. He was greeted with warm hugs. Everyone was telling him how much they support him as well, and thanked him for coming."

As of Sunday morning, Mater Dei had raised $900,000, but hopes to make it to $1 million in order to not have to close its doors. Buzzanco and Elizabeth Wulfhorst, public relations chairwoman for the Save the Seraphs committee, believe they'll definitely reach the goal by "early this week."

Once the school reaches its goal, the next step would be to reach out to the Diocese of Trenton to work on "the road map for the future of Mater Dei Prep," which could include splitting from the parish.

After Williams first heard word of the school's potential closure he immediately vowed to the Asbury Park Press to help in any way he could because of how "heartbroken" he was as a result of the news. 

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)