Charged by a gripping sense of responsibility and gleaming with pride, University alumni and friends walked to a lectern on Monday and gave money to support FAMU Athletics.
The Friends of FAMU Athletics Dream Luncheon was the first of several planned events within the FAMU community aimed at raising $1 million by the start of the next football season.
Board of Trustee member Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr. of Bethel Baptist Church spearheaded this campaign and has spread word of the University’s efforts to revitalize its athletic programs.
Donating $25,000, Ajax Construction Company was one of the first sponsor to contribute to the cause. Leading up to the event, Friends of FAMU Athletics had raised funds from a variety of sources including $20,000 from FAMU Boosters and $25,000 from an anonymous donor.
Urging alumni and other supporters to respond to FAMU’s needs, Holmes said, “We want to raise $100,000 today.”
When all past contributions, combined with the donations of alumni and business representatives, were tallied, the group was able to raise more than $107, 000.
“This is quite a statement,” Holmes said.
Board of Trustee Chairman James Corbin and Interim President Castell Vaughn Bryant spoke of FAMU’s current predicaments and the need for supporters’ help.
Corbin said he believed that those who have benefited most from the education they have received at FAMU should be the first to give back to their alma mater.
Corbin also spoke frankly about the financial struggles of the University but said “I am sure that [FAMU] will come out onto to other side, and we will because of the leadership of Dr. Bryant.”
Bryant, who served as the keynote speaker, was critical of inactive alumni in constant search of a University handout.
“Some alumni come to Tallahassee, rent the biggest car from Avis and stay in a hotel the whole weekend,” Bryant said.
“Then they will come to the fourth floor of Lee Hall and ask for free tickets.”
Comparisons were drawn between the contributions of the University of Central Florida’s, the University of South Florida’s and FAMU’s alumni.
UCF has just built a $12 million workout complex, while the FAMU’s facilities remain unequipped and dilapidated.
“If a star athlete had the choice between the two schools, which school would that first class athlete go to?” Bryant asked.
Raising this and other stirring issues, Bryant’s tone steadily shifted from celebrating the fund-raiser to sternly motivating inactive alumni to become more involved and supportive.
Bryant reminded the audience that there was a time in American history when FAMU was the only school black students could attend in the state.
John Haugabrook, president of the Leon County Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association, stressed the importance of sacrifice during periods of transition and turbulence.
“People who really love FAMU must realize that you’re going to be asked to give more when you’re getting less,” Haugabrook said.
Bryant said the message of the event was appropriate for the observance of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday because the Civil Right’s Movement was about independence, and with independence comes responsibility.
“Next season when you can’t hear yourself at the games, you will take pride in knowing that you did what was necessary to help the University during its time of need,” she said.
Donations can be made in the name of Friends of FAMU Athletics and taken to Lee Hall
Contact Steven Jumper at firstname.lastname@example.org.