(Original article can be found here.)
‘The Foundation’s annual Champions for Children gala will honor five individuals and one organization from different categories that have made a significant impact on education and the lives of public school children. Honorees this year include the following:
Government: Governor Roy Cooper – North Carolina’s 75th governor, Roy Cooper has a record of fighting for North Carolina’s public school children. He has spent nearly three decades in public service protecting families, keeping communities safe and working to create jobs and improve schools. The son of a school teacher, he knows that education creates opportunity and has worked throughout his career to strengthen our schools and create a sound foundation for our state’s children. As a House and Senate member, he fought to reduce class size and increase teacher pay. During his tenure as attorney general, he cracked down on child predators and partnered with law enforcement and school administrators to make schools safer. Governor Cooper believes in the potential of North Carolina and its people. He knows that by investing in our schools and giving students the tools they need to succeed, creating good jobs and raising incomes for the middle class, and strengthening our communities, North Carolinians can live and work in places they are proud to call home.
Philanthropy: Communities in Schools of North Carolina – Communities in Schools of North Carolina (CISNC) is a leading partner in providing integrated student supports or wraparound services to propel student success in more than 300 schools across the state. Based directly inside schools, student support specialists connect students and their families to evidence-based services and supports, as well as critical educational and community-based resources to increase attendance, improve behavior, enhance coursework and engage more parents and families in student success. Tailored to each student’s specific needs, student support specialists create personalized toolkits for success and an educational experience where students can learn, thrive and power the future.
Sports: The Holt brothers – Torry and Terrence Holt were N.C. State football stars who went on to successful careers in the National Football League. Their early years were not easy ones. While young children, their mother Ojetta was diagnosed with lymphoma. Torry and Terrence’s mom passed away 10 years after her initial diagnosis. Her battle with cancer profoundly impacted both of them. In memory of her, they founded the Holt Brothers Foundation, which provides an educational and peer empathy program called “KidsCan” and Camp Kesem, a sleep-away camp for children ages 6 to 16 who have a parent with cancer. The programs are funded by sponsors and partners who take part in the foundation’s fund-raising events.
Religious Leader: Bishop Hope Morgan Ward – Bishop Ward discovered her love for ministry and mission with her work for children in the Methodist Church. Her early work in the church included director of Youth and Missions at Fairmont United Methodist Church, teaching parents with her husband Mike and later chaplain at the Methodist Home for Children and many international mission partnerships. She was elected to the Episcopacy in 2004 and served in Mississippi and her native North Carolina where she currently leads the church. Bishop Ward was selected as a Champion for Children based on her lifelong commitment to the self-worth and dignity for every child, her ministerial experience in serving children, and her leadership in the church and the community on behalf of all children.
Corporate: Brad Wilson, CEO, and Blue Cross Blue and Shield of North Carolina – The mission of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is to improve the health and well-being of its customers and communities. That means working to make North Carolina better for all of us. A strong commitment to children’s education is vital to that work. Brad Wilson, who is chair of the separate non-profit Blue Cross Foundation Board of Directors, has been an advocate for education for many years, and his personal interest in nurturing students aligns with the company’s support of a number of education-related causes. Both Blue Cross and the Blue Cross Foundation fund a number of efforts to help children realize their learning potential as students.