Alumni Gifts Continue for Football Startup
Alumni and friends continue to show support for the new football program. In fact, three BC grads recently stepped forward with major gifts to the Rams Football Booster Club.
December 16, 2011
Alumnus Michael Harris (second from right) of Bluefield, Virginia, gives $5,000 to the Rams Football Booster Club.
Alumnus Sid Lanier (middle) of Williamsburg, Virginia, presents a check for football to head coach Mike Gravier (left) and President David Olive.
Alumnus Lee Mitchell (middle) of Charlotte, North Carolina, the latest member of the Rams Football Booster Club.
On campus as part of Homecoming activities at the school, alumni Michael Harris of Bluefield, Virginia, Sid Lanier of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Lee Mitchell of Charlotte, North Carolina, each joined the ranks of more than 100 other BC donors who have given or pledged at least $5,000 to the new football team.
A native of Abbs Valley, Virginia, and a 1997 graduate of Bluefield College, Harris has worked as a clinical pharmacist for Wal-Mart in Bluefield, Virginia, since 2006. He's currently assistant manager of the Wal-Mart Pharmacy and works part-time as a clinical pharmacist for Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands, Virginia. He said his support of the Bluefield College football program is just one way to help the school fulfill its mission.
"As a Christian, we all should look at ways to help spread the word of Christ," said Harris, who earned his doctorate in pharmacy from Shenandoah University. "Bluefield College is one avenue God gave this area to serve that mission. Many students on campus have never been churched, and that gives us the opportunity to spread the word. The football program is one area where we can reach out to more students by helping them do something they enjoy."
Beyond football, Harris provides vital financial aid to Bluefield students through gifts to the BC Fund for Scholarships. He also serves on the BC Alumni Council and is a recipient of the college's Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.
"There is a sense of innovation and excitement at Bluefield College with the current administration that I have never felt before on campus," said Harris. "We have people in leadership roles who are thinking outside the box. We need more people like that. You can't keep going at the same status and expect growth. Each generation changes, and as a campus community we have to keep up with those changes."
Harris is also a member of Destiny Outreach Ministries of Springville, Virginia, and the Economic Development Committee of Bluefield, Virginia. In addition, he serves as a volunteer clinical professor for Shenandoah University, the Medical College of Virginia, and the Appalachia School of Pharmacy. He credits his grandparents and the caring pharmacists who mentored him during his college days for instilling in him the desire to stay in southwest Virginia and give back to the community.
"Bluefield College has a significant economic impact on the Greater Bluefield area, and bringing football back to campus creates a greater sense of community, not only for the students on campus, but also for the community at-large," said Harris. "This is a huge football area, and people get excited about football here. I'm a proud supporter of Bluefield College and thankful for the education I received there. I look forward to celebrating more growth and development at Bluefield College and seeing students having a positive impact on the Bluefield community."
Lanier, a 1974 BC graduate, is a retired business executive of Anheuser Bush of Williamsburg, Virginia. He now works for Riverside Hospital at Patriot's Colony in Williamsburg and said he is grateful for the opportunity to play a small part in the return of football to Bluefield.
"I am very excited about the return of football to Bluefield College," said Lanier," who also attended Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia's Wheaton School of Business, and the Virginia Institute of Political Leadership. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to give, and I give thanks to God for His faithfulness, goodness and mercy as we endeavor to serve Him."
Lanier is also a member, past president and district membership director of the Williamsburg Lions Club, where he earned a Melvin Jones Fellow award in recognition of his humanitarian service. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Lions Medical Eye Bank and Research Center of Eastern Virginia.
"Coach (Mike) Gravier is putting together a fine group of athletes, and I am excited to be a small part of this," he said. "Many alumni say that Bluefield College is the best thing that happened to them, and now even greater opportunities await the students accepted into this special school. To God be the glory; great things He has done and will continue to do."
Outside of his financial support of Bluefield College, Lanier is a member of the BC Board of Trustees. With his latest gift, he said he challenges all BC alumni to give and to get involved, not only with football, but other Bluefield College ventures, including plans for the new Campus and Community Wellness Center.
"During Homecoming 2011, I had the high honor to sit in the stadium with (former BC professor) Will Gordon and (1940 BC football player) Taylor Moore to watch the Rams take the field again -- nothing like being a part of history. It is an honor to be a part of such a wonderful opportunity as football returning to BC."
Mitchell is a senior support engineer for Microsoft in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has worked for Microsoft for nearly 20 years after serving in similar engineering positions with JC Penney, Wal-Mart and General Electric. A Bluefield College donor since shortly after his graduation in 1985, Mitchell said he's excited about the return of football at his alma mater.
"I am very pleased to be able to play a small part in bringing intercollegiate football back to Bluefield College," said Mitchell. "Hopefully, the reintroduction of football to BC will benefit both the college and the Bluefield community, in general."
Mitchell's gifts to Bluefield College have also provided vital financial aid to students through the BC Fund for Scholarships. His contributions to the school are doubled through a matching gifts program with Microsoft. He is also active in developing BC's new Greater Charlotte Alumni Chapter.
"I think it's vital that we have Christ-centered schools, like Bluefield College, offering students the opportunity to get an education and grow in their walk with Christ," said Mitchell, an usher and Sunday school teacher for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina. "Hopefully, the football program will raise the profile of Bluefield College as an option for those seeking a Christian higher education."
Bluefield College formally announced the return of intercollegiate football in June of 2010 after 70 years without gridiron competition and following an extensive four-year-long study to determine the feasibility of reviving the sport. Shortly thereafter, the college hired Mike Gravier, a coach with a history of launching new football programs and a track record of developing players both on and off the field, to begin club play in the sport this fall and full intercollegiate action in the fall of 2012. Since then, more than 100 donors, including Harris, Lanier and Mitchell, have stepped up with a gift of at least $5,000 to help underwrite startup costs for the new sport.
"We are excited to see our alumni have the same vision as we do at Bluefield College by investing in the reinstatement of our football program," said Annette Tabor, associate vice president for advancement. "Because of the generosity of founder members, like Mike Harris, Sid Lanier and Lee Mitchell, our dream is becoming a reality."
For more information about the new Rams football team or becoming a charter member of the Rams Football Booster Club, call 276-326-4556 or visit the BC web site at www.bcrams.com.