The athletic department at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke hosted their seventh annual on April 26th in English E. Jones Center on campus. The event serves as one of the premier fundraisers for the Braves Club scholarship fund. Funds raised by this event that features live entertainment, a silent auction, and dinner with coaches, student-athletes and special guests go toward all 16 of the university’s varsity athletic programs and the athletes involved.
The theme of this year’s fundraiser was “A Night With The Stars” and the list of celebrity guest in attendance included natives of Robeson County such as basketball legends Chris Corchiani, Denny Crum, Joe Gallagher and Derek Whittenburg as well as pair of Robeson County natives in current NFL referee Brad Allen and retired three-time All-Pro NFL fullback Vonta Leach who was a key member of a Baltimore Ravens team that won Superbowl 47.
The tables at the event were sponsored by Scotland Health and some of the notable items that were featured in the silent auction were autographed memorabilia from prominent athletes, coaches and sports figures at both the collegiate and professional level as well some game experience opportunities to both college and pro sporting events. There were also get away packages up for auction to take mini vacations in places such as Myrtle Beach.
It was a great turnout for the event and UNCP Athletic Director Dick Christy expressed his pleasure and appreciation for all those that decided to come out to support the department and its student-athletes.
“The bigger thing is honestly the awareness piece,” said Christy. “We have so many key people in Robeson County and our surrounding counties here tonight to hear the message of why we need support, what our athletes could mean for the region, what they are achieving with the limited resources they have. That part of getting that message out is like hey this is something pretty special that we need to get behind is almost more important than the financial support.”
The special guests garnered a lot of attention from everybody in attendance, but I managed to get a couple of quotes from the local legends in Leach and Allen amidst their respective busy nights
“Growing up in Robeson County has meant a whole lot to me. It made me into the person I am today. It’s a place where there’s a lot of diversity and I’m just glad to be here,” said Leach. “To who much is given much is required. There’s a lot that you can do, you can give, you can give your heart, you can also give your time. Sometimes time is the most important thing you can give.”
“I love giving back and I love being here,” said Allen who is gearing up for his sixth season as NFL referee and was the youngest official ever to be put in charge of a whole officiating crew.