Over the past two weekends, the Deacon Club has hosted a couple of very special events. Our fifth annual Stewardship Brunch was held on January 28, while we celebrated Deacon Club Appreciation Day on February 4, leading us perfectly into the start of Stewardship Month, which we celebrate throughout the entirety of February.
As I reflect on the past two weeks, I am blown away by all of the support our Deacon Club members have shown, and that has been such a pleasure to witness. We saw record-setting numbers at both the Stewardship Brunch and Deacon Cl
ub Appreciation day, with over 300 and 800 attendees, respectively. I would like to extend a huge thanks to each and every one of you who attended these events and helped make them so special.
This year’s Stewardship Brunch, honoring Athletic scholarship donors, featured a full program and allowed student-athletes, coaches and the Athletic Department to express their gratitude to all of the donors in attendance.
Also, for the first time at this event, our annual Deacon Club Member of the Year Award was presented. The 2016 recipient was longtime Deacon Club member and 1983 graduate of Wake Forest, J.J. Smith.
We were also extremely honored to welcome back former Wake Forest men’s soccer player, James Riley (’05) as a special guest speaker. After graduating from Wake Forest, Riley went on to play 11 seasons in the MLS with multiple teams. Riley announced his retirement as an active player in June of 2016 and now serves as the Director of Player Relations for MLS.
Riley shared his love for Wake Forest and how grateful he is for the opportunity he was given to attend this university and compete as a Deac.
“When I came to Wake Forest I was informed, inspired and deeply impacted by this institution,” he said. “My time here would not have come to fruition without the fantastic contributions from our Deacon Club members.”
Riley then proceeded to serve as the emcee of a panel discussion about the student-athlete experience at Wake Forest. Panelists included women’s golfer, Sierra Sims (’17); former football and basketball player, Bill Robinson (’87, P ’17); football player, Wendell Dunn (’17); and scholarship donor and Deacon Club Board of Directors member, Rhona Sherrill.
All of the panelists shared amazing insight based on their own personal experiences with Wake Forest, each putting their own unique spin on the conversation.
After the panel concluded, we had the opportunity to hear from Wake Forest alumnus and trustee, Mit Shah (’91). It was announced on January 26 that Shah had donated an additional $5 million in support of Wake Forest basketball and the basketball player development facility, which will be named the Shah Basketball Complex.
“What happens here at Wake Forest is truly unique and special. You arrive on this campus, you go through this journey and it changes your life,” he said. “My passion for Wake Forest remains very deep and has led me to get involved and engaged. I’m happy to help in any small way to impact others’ lives the way mine was.”
Scholarship donors truly have a tremendous impact on the lives of our student-athletes and seeing the strong relationships created between student-athletes and their respective donors is always one of my favorite parts of this event.
The following weekend we kicked off Stewardship Month with Deacon Club Appreciation Day, where we were able to recognize and celebrate all of our Deacon Club members and their generous contributions. I loved seeing so many of you in attendance, socializing and sharing your Wake Forest stories and memories, whether current or from years past.
All of you help make so much possible for our student-athletes and without you, we would be unable to realize our vision of Developing Champions. On behalf of all of us at the Deacon Club, thank you for your continued support.