The Ronald McDonald Scholarship Dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Round Rock did not promise much.

Some pasta and ice tea. Chat around the table. A keynote speech. A nod to the scholars.

But it’s rarely that simple.

To my right was Derrick Lesnau, program director at the House for seriously ill kids on the Dell Children’s Medical Center campus.

He explained how much the national McDonald’s company kicks in for the House (nothing), local fast-food owners and operators (18 percent) and donors (the rest).

Makes the annual Bandana Ball at enchanted Wild Onion Ranch all the more essential, doesn’t it?

To my left was Ruth DeHolton and her son, Kyle DeHolton, who will study computer science at the University of Texas. Ruth grew up in what was then the Belgian Congo, lived and worked in other African and European countries before landing in Austin to teach at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy on the LBJ High School campus. Kyle studied there.

Across the table were Debbie Crowley and her son, Kevin Crowley, whose story must wait a bit.

Meanwhile, the speaker was none other than Carl Settles Jr., familiar to us as a skillful musician, but also a teacher, a web designer and leader for diversity in the media and advertising field. He talked about different visions of education undertood by different generations, especially among African Americans.

The backers got the two dozen or so scholarship winners to introduce themselves and thank those who had supported them. This turned out to be a funny and moving exercise. No two students were alike.

Then the Crowleys took the stage.

Turns out Debbie’s daughter, Erin Crowley, had won a 2007 scholarship, which is based partly on community service, but died of cancer before she could accept it. So local McDonald’s owners funded a special $4,000 scholarship in her name. Debbie, with grown-up Kevin at her side, spoke about her daughter and the award, won by Rini Sinha.

Turns out almost every student thanked their mothers in particular for urging (nagging?) them to fill out the scholarship forms. Those mothers deserve all the genuinely thankful praise they received from their progeny.