The Office for Advancement at UNC Pembroke hosted its second annual S.O.S. Beach Party on August 6, drawing about 400 guests and raising $65,000 for scholarship endowments, which have wavered in this troubled economy.
S.O.S. Advisory Committee - from left: Larry Chavis, Bruce Mullis, Aaron Thomas, Carolyn Floyd-Robinson, Erica Jones, Kellie Blue, Mary Winfrey, Mickey Gregory, Mac Campbell, Robin Jones, Mickey Meekins and Greg Smith; kneeling: Mike Hardin. Not pictured: James Granger, Grady Hunt and Lisa Rust.
What does S.O.S. mean? It is a call for help. “We started with it being Save our Scholarships,” said Sandy Waterkotte, vice chancellor of the Office for Advancement. The acronym has since morphed into a variety of phrases. “You make up what you want it to be. It is truly Support our Students,” Waterkotte said.
After last year’s success, the organizers knew it would it would become an annual event. “It’s for a great cause,” said James Bass, who was celebrating his last event as the outgoing director for the Office of Alumni Relations. “What better way to help students than to have fun?”
Attendees enjoyed themselves again this year. A din of laughter and conversation buzzed inside the University Center Annex and outside under the cabana-like tents where drinks were served, nearly drowning out the upbeat music by The Holiday Band.
Donna Lowry, a member of the Board of Trustees enthusiastically said, “Anytime that I can dress casual and come to an event and socialize, count me in!”
According to Janet Williams, Sodexho’s catering manager, Chef Michael Putnam spent two days preparing the food, which included ribs, chicken kabobs, tropical fruit, lobster, shrimp and individual pineapple upside-down cakes.
According to the event planners, the fundraiser took three months of intense preparation. The team spent four days setting up and decorating the party scene, including a row of palm trees fashioned from local bamboo, and having the physical plant workers lay sand with a backhoe to the entrance of the tents to complete the island ambiance.
Chancellor Kyle Carter and wife, Sarah, attend their first and the University’s second S.O.S. Beach Party
The beach-clothes-wearing crowd shagged, danced the electric slide and participated in both a dance contest and a hula-hoop contest, which included former Miss UNCP Morgan Hunt, who became Morgan Warriax last year. Guests also lined up for the caricature artist, and for the award-winning couple Susan the Body Artist and Lester the Balloon Guy.
Chancellor Kyle R. Carter drew the winning raffle tickets from a drum, including the grand prize donated by Debbie’s Destinations of St. Pauls, N.C. — a five-day, four-night, airfare-included cruise for two — to winner Robeson County Commissioner Hubert Sealey.
The S.O.S. gala was Chancellor Carter’s first fundraising party at UNCP. “The amount of work that the staff puts into this event is only exceeded by the fun and fellowship that people have once they get here.” Dr. Carter said. “The passion that people have for this place…there’s a fierce loyalty.”
Thanks go to the S.O.S. Advisory Committee that included Larry Chavis, Bruce Mullis, Aaron Thomas, Carolyn Floyd-Robinson, Erica Jones, Kellie Blue, Mary Winfrey, Mickey Gregory, Mac Campbell, Robin Jones, Mickey Meekins, Greg Smith, Mike Hardin, James Granger, Grady Hunt and Lisa Rust.
Thanks to the event sponsors: Pembroke Pointe Apartments, Holistic Services, Inc., Nic’s Pic Kwik, First Bank, Scotland Memorial Hospital, McDonald’s, RA Jeffrey’s Budweiser Distributing, Holiday Inn Express, Debbie’s Destinations and Metcon Construction.