For the last two years, Southwestern Community College’s Boots, Blue Jeans and Bling gala had to be canceled due to the pandemic. This year, however, the gala was able to come back – and this time bigger than ever before.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, more than 425 guests flooded the new ballroom at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort as the annual event sold out for the first time. The event raised a record $122,913 before an anonymous guest committed an additional $10,000 for an annual scholarship.
“Every year, I am humbled to see the generosity and passion people in our area have for providing our students a hand up,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC’s President. “Even during the years we couldn’t have the gala in person, we still raised almost $100,000 annually. On behalf of our students, I am extremely thankful to everyone who supports- and helps organize- this wonderful event.”
SCC’s gala planning committee was co-chaired by Wendy LeMay, a member of the SCC Foundation Board of Directors, and Lambert Wilson, Chair of SCC’s Board of Trustees.
“This was such an amazing event, and everything we raised supports students,” Wilson said. “We have the best community college in the nation right here in Western North Carolina, and I am thrilled that we can assist more students than we ever have before.”
The gala was buzzing with excitement as various performers and presenters took the stage.
Dr. Tomas recognized distinguished guests and thanked the crowd for their support. During his remarks, Dr. Tomas bestowed the inaugural SCC IMPACT Award on Brooks Robinson, Regional Senior Vice President and General Manager for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
“Brooks Robinson and his team at Harrah’s have demonstrated an unprecedented level of generous and sustained support of SCC and the community,” Dr. Tomas said. “We are extremely grateful for everything they do to benefit our students.”
Wilson and Jenny Holland, committee member and Chair of the Foundation Board of Directors, made presentations dedicated to Dr. Tomas and his wife, Allison Tomas.
Wilson presented a framed photo of the new Health Sciences Center and announced that SCC’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to name the building after Dr. Tomas.
Holland recognized and celebrated Mrs. Tomas by announcing the Allison Tomas Endowed Scholarship fund, which will be awarded to Teacher Preparation or Emergency Medical Science students in need of assistance. Donations were made towards the scholarship on the night of the gala, and gifts are still coming in.
“Every new scholarship we endow means another student can enroll and get started on a fulfilling career pathway,” Wendy LeMay said. “I am so proud of, and grateful to, everyone on our planning committee who made this evening a success.”
Two scholarship recipients, Elizabeth Cartwright and Logan Walker, closed out the program by telling their stories about how receiving scholarships changed their lives for the better.
To learn more about the SCC Foundation or to discuss ways of supporting SCC students, please contact Brett Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation, at 828.339.4241