Generosity and gratitude were the prominent themes during a special event at Cape Fear Community College today. An estimated 600 members of the local community gathered at CFCC’s Schwartz Center earlier this afternoon and raised over $300,000 for student scholarships at the “Gift of Education” luncheon.
The annual event is sponsored by the CFCC Foundation and was held in downtown Wilmington.
Highlights from the program included speeches from remarkable students whose lives have been transformed by their experience at CFCC.
Student speakers included Ray “Chief” Charfauros, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who enrolled at CFCC to earn a degree to start his civilian life; Destiny Newsome, a student who recently returned home after volunteering in Africa as part of her studies in occupational therapy assisting; and Hudson O’Keefe, who overcame several major setbacks during her pursuit of a degree in medical sonography.
O’Keefe discovered a new calling for a career in health care after enduring numerous medical tests while dealing with a cancer diagnosis, which turned out to be false. After enrolling at CFCC, she also faced another set of obstacles – an unexpected layoff from her job and the death of her mother. In spite of these challenges, she chose to persist with her education.
“I had to decide if I was going to let my situation, these challenges, stop me. Would I return to what I already knew, have a decent income from jobs that had no meaning and added nothing to the world or would I push forward against any storm to change my life? I decided on the latter,” O’Keefe stated.
She closed her remarks by thanking the crowd for their generosity and stated that she recently started her own scholarship fund to help future students.
“There are many things you could have done with the money you donated to Cape Fear Community College and I am so glad you chose to give it to the Foundation. Because you donate to this school, each one of you is a role model. Because you donate to this school, you are also creating new role models for others. With gratitude and in your honor, I am proud to say that I have started my own scholarship for sonography students. Paying my debt forward is the only way I can begin to repay it, and I thank you, each one of you,” O’Keefe said.
Following the student remarks, guests heard from veteran college basketball coach Jerry Wainwright, who was the keynote speaker. Interspersed with humorous stories, Wainwright praised the crowd for their commitment to CFCC students.
“Someone once told me that the simplest prayer is just two words – ‘thank you’,” Wainwright said.
Other speakers included CFCC President Dr. Ted D. Spring, chair of the CFCC Foundation Board Sara Strassle and CFCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Margaret Robison.
The CFCC Foundation is a non-profit organization made up of a volunteer board of directors focused on raising private funds to support the mission of CFCC.