Due to rising COVID-19 cases in Western North Carolina, Southwestern Community College officials have decided to cancel this year’s “Boots, Blue Jeans & Bling” gala that had been scheduled for the second Saturday in September at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
“This was an extremely difficult decision,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC’s President. “A record number of people and organizations had already committed to attending, and we were all very much looking forward to a fun, relaxed evening at Harrah’s Events Center in support of our students. However, our top priority must always be public safety.
“We remain hopeful that this pandemic will end soon so that we can get back together,” Dr. Tomas added. “We look forward to celebrating our commitment to giving students a hand-up so that they can change their lives at SCC.”
In place of the in-person gala, Southwestern will share a short video with those who made plans to attend the gala. The event’s silent auction will be held virtually starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and concluding at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14. To register for the silent auction, visit: www.southwesterncc.edu/gala.
Individuals and organizations who already made reservations for the gala or sponsored tables may have their gift directed in support of SCC student scholarships and receive a 100-percent tax credit for the donation. Alternatively, they can receive a refund if requested by Sept. 20.
This would have been SCC’s seventh fundraising gala to support student scholarships. Over the years, the annual event has raised more than $400,000 to help students achieve their educational goals at Southwestern.
“We are grateful to everyone who served on our SCC Gala Planning Committee and for the many friends and supporters who’ve made this possible, including our loyal and extremely generous underwriting sponsor - Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort - and General Manager, Brooks Robinson,” said Wendy LeMay, who co-chairs the committee with Lambert Wilson.
Wilson, who is also Chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees, added: “There is no way to measure how many students’ lives have been changed through our supporters’ generosity, and we are eager to continue the momentum we’ve built.”
Among this year’s scholarship recipients is Andrew Eastep, a student in Southwestern’s Physical Therapist Assistant program.
“This scholarship is wildly important for the continuation of my education,” said Eastep, who received the Daniel May Finish Line Scholarship. “The pandemic brought financial insecurity and hardship, but this scholarship will ease the financial burden that comes along with studying for a new career.”