WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – This February marked the Deacon Club’s sixth annual Stewardship Brunch, which is held each year in celebration of athletic scholarship donors and the generous support they provide to Wake Forest student-athletes. Nearly 350 donors, coaches and student-athletes gathered at Bridger Field House for this fan-favorite event.
The 2018 Stewardship Brunch was centered around the theme of Today, Tomorrow, Forever, which helped portray the impact made through scholarship support at different stages. Three special guests—Hannah Betfort (’21), Dr. Louis Frazier (’07, MD ’12) and Bob McCreary (’61)—were present to share their own unique experiences and explain how their lives were positively impacted through their own scholarships, as well as the generosity of Deacon Club members.
Hannah Betfort, who represented the Today portion of the program, is a freshman member of the women’s soccer team. Immediately contributing to the team’s success, she scored five goals in her freshman campaign and was recently invited to the U-18 Women’s National Team Training Camp. In addition to her on-field success, Betfort excels in the classroom and was named to the ACC All-Academic Team.
While she has had many great experiences thus far as a student-athlete at Wake Forest, Betfort shared the untraditional path she took to get here. As one of five children in a single-mother household, she explained that her family wouldn’t have been able to afford to send her to college. “I would like to thank everyone in this room because, in one way or another, you have impacted me and everyone around me at this institution,” Hannah shared. Wrapping up her remarks, she reiterated her gratitude to all of the donors, stating, “You have changed my life, and done the same for many of the athletes in here.”
Speaking to Tomorrow was Dr. Louis Frazier. He attended Wake Forest as an undergraduate from 2003-07, where he was a biology major and member of the football team. Once he earned his bachelor’s degree, Frazier was accepted into the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and graduated in 2012. He completed his residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he had the opportunity to serve as the Emergency Medicine Chief Resident. Currently, Frazier is an emergency physician in Nashville, TN.
Growing up, Frazier faced a lot of adversity. Knowing that Wake Forest played a major role in his life, he wanted to make sure all the donors know how much their support has meant to him throughout the years. “Thank you so much,” he expressed. “Maybe, somehow, I could’ve worked my way up through a junior college scholarship and went to a great school like this, but my family couldn’t afford it.”
Constantly striving for more, he was able to overcome many challenges and has achieved so much. Reflecting on his journey and everything he has endured, Frazier stated, “I just want to let you know that all your support has paid off.”
Bob McCreary—the Athletic Department’s largest donor with over $30 million in lifetime giving—rounded out the main program as the Forever speaker. McCreary is a former football student-athlete and 1961 graduate of Wake Forest. Upon graduating, he was drafted as the 65th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers and was later signed by the Dallas Cowboys, where he served as the starting right tackle for the 1961 season. After retiring from professional football, McCreary spent 20 years working in sales and management within the furniture industry. In 1986, he and his wife, Michele, opened their own furniture company—McCreary Modern Inc.—which they still run today.
McCreary had a very modest upbringing, and similar to Betfort and Frazier, would not have been able to attend college without a scholarship. “My scholarship enabled me to come to Wake Forest, and Wake Forest became the platform for the rest of my life,” he affirmed. Knowing first-hand the impact a scholarship can have, McCreary feels privileged to have the ability to give back in the form of scholarship and help other young people who may be in a similar position. Currently, he and his wife fund three full scholarships per year.
While McCreary has done an incredible amount to support Wake Forest Athletics and our student-athletes, he has also been a great advocate for encouraging others to give back now. “Find a way to do it as soon as you can so you can enjoy the benefits of the gift,” he stated. Speaking to all the fellow donors, McCreary shared, “Sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to perhaps do just a little bit more because you’re making a tremendous investment in these young lives.”
In addition to the three speakers, we also had the opportunity to present our annual Deacon Club Member of the Year Award. This year’s recipients were Mike and Rhona Sherrill. Mike—a 1977 graduate of Wake Forest—and Rhona are longtime supporters of the Deacon Club and have been instrumental in a multitude of ways.
Not only have they generously contributed to the Annual Fund and various capital projects, the couple has established the Sherrill Family Athletic Scholarship, which has proven to be a source of joy and pride for both of them. The wonderful relationships they’ve formed with the current and former recipients of their scholarship have led the Sherrills to create a scholarship matching program, which has already inspired five other families to establish scholarships of their own. In addition to their financial commitments, Rhona previously served as a member of the Deacon Club Board of Directors.