IL awards supports Hi Kee

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By Reece Murphy

Steele Hill Community Partners Inc. is starting a new tradition this month with a fundraiser dedicated to honoring Indian Land residents who have made an impact on the community.

The inaugural Making a Difference Community Awards luncheon is 11:30 a.m. March 16 at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church, 238 Fort Mill Highway.

Proceeds from the event will be used to support Steele Hill Community Partners’ Hi Kee Summer Enrichment Program.

“We’re always looking to do creative things, and we thought this would be a great way to bring the community together,” Hi Kee Director and event organizer Fred Witherspoon said. “This is our first year, but we’re hoping to make it an annual event.”

In addition to a catered meal, the first Making a Difference Community Awards luncheon will include four awards for Indian Land natives who “Made a Difference” through their community or professional service:

  • Servant Leader Award – The Rev. Robert A. Morrison, lifelong minister and retired pastor of Steele Hill AME Zion church
  • Lifetime Achievement – Louise Pettus, local historian, former Winthrop College professor, publisher, author and Winthrop University Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections namesake
  • Community Service Award – Bennett Gunter, retired coach, educator, principal and superintendent of Indian Land Schools, and community advocate
  • Trailblazer Award – Shawn Crawford, Olympic gold and silver medalist, international sprint champion, Clemson University Hall of Fame member and Indian Land High School graduate

Witherspoon said in selecting the first group of honorees,  Steele Hill Community Partners wanted to select those who were good examples of what Indian Land is all about.

“These folks did the groundwork and laid the framework for what IL is today,” he said of the inaugural winners. “These are people who represent the culture and fabric of our community.

“And they’re good role models for the children (in Hi Kee),” Witherspoon said. “They’re folks who can show them if they act right and work hard, they can succeed, too.”

Hi Kee is a six-week enrichment program held each summer for school-age children.

The program’s goal is to keep students sharp over the summer and encourage academic achievement, self-confidence and positive life trajectories. It includes study time, health and physical fitness, enrichment activities and community engagement.

Witherspoon said supporting the Making a Difference Community Awards is a great way for attendees to support Indian Land.

“Supporting our young people is supporting the community’s future,” Witherspoon said. “We want to make education a community mission.”

General admission tickets for the first Making A Difference Community Awards luncheon are $30 for individuals and $55 for couples.

Corporate and individual sponsorships are also available: Title sponsorship for $1,000 (one available); supporting sponsorships, $700 (two); associate sponsorship, $350 (four); table sponsorship, $220 (six); individual patron tickets, $50 and $75 each.

The deadline to buy tickets is Thursday, March 7. For details, visit http://scpartners.webs.com and click on the “Making A Difference Awards” tab, or call Witherspoon at (704) 488-5008.

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151