Monday, August 24, 2009

Gift to Pfeiffer University helps sick children

Somewhere in the news release sent today was a story of passions meeting needs.

The main theme: A retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg school teacher had given her alma mater, Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer in Stanly County, a gift of a little more than $100,000 -- a tidy sum in these uncertain times for any nonprofit, school or charity.

What's neatly bound in this story is the confluence of passions and desires that overlap and intertwine one another.

The donor, who wants to stay anonymous, is a NASCAR fan -- particularly of Richard Petty.

The famed racer and his family have had a long relationship with the school. Petty is a longtime Pfeiffer trustee, and regular donor. One of his grandsons, Austin, had attended Pfeiffer. After another grandson, Adam, was killed in 2000 practicing at New Hampshire International Speedway, Pfeiffer established a scholarship to honor him.

The donor also has a compassion for children with special needs.

Petty's son, Kyle, a NASCAR driver, and Kyle's wife, Pattie, started a camp in 2004 for terminally and chronically ill children, in Adam's memory. Their camp, Victory Junction Gang Camp, is on the family land in Randolph County, and it provides an environment for kids to temporarily forget about their illnesses.

So the donor wanted to endow an internship that will allow Pfeiffer students to work with and learn about children with special needs at Victory Junction.

That fits one of the university's missions of developing servant leaders.

"It is truly a circle of influence that will have a generational impact," Pfeiffer President Chuck Ambrose told The Cliff. "There are multiple beneficiaries."

The donor, who retired to Lake Norman after 30 years of teaching, came to Pfeiffer with her offering. Pfeiffer brokered the relationship between her and the Pettys.

Kyle Petty was overjoyed that Pfeiffer will be sending student interns: "Counselors and volunteers have a tremendous impact on the lives of the children we serve. The time, the energy, the smiles are priceless. We are thankful and look forward to a long partnership with Pfeiffer University."

The gift follows a $1 million donation from the estate of Winston-Salem banker William White, who died last December.

"Both gifts are helping us through some challenging economic times," Ambrose said. "Because of all the passions involved, what a great gift this second one is for Pfeiffer, what a great gift it is for Victory Junction -- and for the donor."