Rotarian Idol 2015

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All Photos Courtesy of Rose Mary Cheek PhotographyRotarian Idol 2015 All Contestants

On March 14, 2015 a near capacity crowd at Lenoir Rhyne University’s P.E. Monroe auditorium greeted contestants competing in the Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory’s sixth annual Rotarian Idol fundraiser for local educational initiatives. Auditions in January and February narrowed the field of contestants to 20 finalists competing for $5,000 in total prize money. Saturday night’s finalists were: Mark Bodnar, Cristin Cartwright, Matthew Cook, Josh Costello, Wesley Curtis, Michael Donnelly, Autumn Garcia, Hannah Griffin, Linda Hagen, Amanda Harren, Ariana Harren, Krystal Heffinger, Benjamin James, Jordan Kirby, Phuong McKinney, Kendra Norwood, Marcus Phillips, Stephanie Priola, Savannah Spencer and Lauren Wasmund.

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  • Cartwright_Cristin

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  • Costello_Josh

  • Curtis_Wesley

  • Donnelly_Michael

  • Garcia_Autumn

  • Griffin_Hannah

  • Hagen_Linda

  • Harren_Amanda

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  • Heffinger_Krystal

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  • McKinney_Phuong

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This year’s crop of talented contestants entertained the crowd for nearly two hours, from 7:00-9:00. Judging the competition was no easy task. Three judges, John Coffey, LaKeisha Ross and Nathan Hefner, were faced with the difficult task of selecting three prize winners from the twenty contestants who performed. While the judges deliberated, the crowd was entertained by local singer, songwriter and musician, Ulysses Long, who was among the 48 finalists in the seventh season of NBC’s hit show, America’s Got Talent.

Deliberations complete; the prize winners were announced and presented checks by Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory President David Moore and Rotarian Idol Chair Sandi Fotheringham. First prize of $2,500 was awarded to Wesley Curtis. The second place check for $1500 went to Benjamin James and the third place prize of $500 was presented to Savannah Spencer. Josh Costello also received a check for $500 as the winner of the “Audience Favorite” vote.

The real winner again was education. In five previous Rotarian Idol competitions Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory has raised $302,000 for local education initiatives and this year’s fundraiser is expected to raise an additional $70,000. All proceeds raised go toward scholarships for area students, Hickory City Schools Teacher of the Year awards, and other local educational initiatives in Catawba County, as well as other Rotary International humanitarian efforts. Event proceeds also support Catawba County’s Partnership for Children Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program which provides children who live in Catawba County one free book in the mail each month until their 5th birthday! Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory has contributed $87,000 to the Imagination Library making the purchase of 43,500 books possible.

Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory would again like to acknowledge and thank this year’s title sponsor Lenoir-Rhyne University. Other major sponsors included Catawba Valley Medical Center, Charter TV, FOCUS Newspaper, Graystone Eye, Hickory Daily Record, KICKS 103.3 FM, Sign Systems, WBTV Channel 3 in Charlotte and WHKY TV Channel 14 in Hickory. Also meriting special recognition are Hal Rowe, local radio personality, who served as Master of Ceremonies, Rose Mary Cheek of Rose Mary Cheek Photography whose outstanding photos documented the event, all the event program advertisers and volunteers, without whose contributions the fundraiser would not have been a success. And of course a special “thank you” to all the contestants and people who purchased tickets to attend the event.

Rotarian Idol 2015 1st Place

Rotarian Idol 2015 2nd Place

Rotarian Idol 2015 3rd Place

Rotarian Idol 2015 Audience Favorite

Rotarian Idol Contestants Selected and Ticket Sales Locations Announced

Hickory Rotary Club has announced the 20 contestants selected by a panel of judges to compete in the club’s annual musical fundraiser, Rotarian Idol. The event will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 14, 2015, in PE Monroe Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Competing for $5,000 in total prize money will be:

Mark Bodnar Cristin Cartwright Matthew Cook Josh Costello Wesley Curtis
Michael Donnelly Autumn Garcia Hannah Griffin Linda Hagen Ariana Harren
Amanda Harren Krystal Heffinger Benjamin James Jordan Kirby Phuong McKinney
Kendra Norwood Marcus Phillips Stephanie Priola Savannah Spencer Lauren Wasmund

Hickory Rotary Club has hosted Rotarian Idol from 2010 -2014. Rotarian Allen Finely says, “It’s exciting to know that we’ve already made a $300,000 impact on education for everyone in the county.” To view results and performance videos from previous Rotarian Idol contests visit:

For more information about this year’s event, visit, contact John Rambo, Chair, at 327-3855 x 113, via e-mail or Allen Finley at 324-6700, or via email

Vote for your 2015 Rotarian Idol Audience Favorite performer!

Click on the name of your favorite contestant (see above) and “vote” for him/her by making an online donation (all proceeds go to support local education and other humanitarian causes of the Hickory Rotary Club). The contestant who raises the most money receives a $500 cash prize and the Audience Favorite title.

Audience Favorite Vote Link

Tickets for this year’s event are $20 Adult and $10 Student (with a valid student ID). Tickets may be purchased from any Hickory Rotary Club member or at three convenient locations.

Purchase Tickets at the Following Locations

Allen Finley Advertising 42 3rd Street NW (Downtown) 828-324-6700
Hickory Community Theater 30 3rd Street NW (Downtown) 828-327-3855
Office Furniture USA 1427 2nd Street NE (Viewmont HWY 127) 828-345-6200

Also Lowes Food will be selling tickets at the following locations:

• 1405 29th Ave NE in Hickory (828-256-1905)
• 2631 NC Hwy 127 South in Hickory (828-294-1555)
• 260 14th Ave NE in Hickory (828-256-0104)
• 3010-A N Center St in Hickory (828-322-2888)
• 9441 NC Hwy 127 in Hickory (828-495-1105)
• 3035 Centennial Blvd in Claremont (828-459-1775)

Sixth Annual “ROTARIAN IDOL” Auditions Announced

Hickory, NC – Hickory Rotary Club has announced dates for its musical fundraiser, “ROTARIAN IDOL”. The event will be held Saturday, March 14, at 7 pm in PE Monroe Auditorium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University. Auditions will be held at The SALT Block Auditorium January 8 from 5:30-7pm and January 10 from 2-3:30 pm. There is no limit to age or place of residence, but professional singers (which were paid $600 or more in 2014) will not be allowed to audition. A $5 fee is required.

100% of the money raised will be used to benefit educational needs throughout Catawba County and other humanitarian causes that Rotary supports.

This year’s Title Sponsor will again be Lenoir-Rhyne University. The successful fundraiser will be co-chaired by Rotarians John Rambo and Sandi Fotheringham; Ticket Sales will be chaired by John Rambo; Advertising / Major Sponsor Sales chair will be Past-President Allen Finley. Other committee members are: President David Moore, Bruce Bumbarger, Jennifer Clark, John Olson, Lamar Mitchell, Lynn Loehr, Kathy Greathouse, Neill McGeachy, and Linda Lutz.

“Education is very important to our club, and has been since 1921”, “ROTARIAN IDOL” committee member Lamar Mitchell said.

Rambo expects this year’s auction to raise at least $70,000. In past years the Hickory Rotary Club has raised nearly $1 Million through live TV and silent auctions.

To reach this goal, the Rotary Club will sell adult tickets @ $20 each, and this year children and students with a valid student ID can purchase tickets for $10 each. Advertisements for the Show Program will be sold at $500 for a full-page ad, $250 for a half-page ad and $150 for a quarter-page ad. Major Sponsorships are $1,000.

A total of 20 contestants will be chosen to compete for $5,000 in total prize money. First Place wins $2,500, Second Place $1,500, Third Place $500; and $500 is awarded to the Audience Favorite. Additionally, several door prizes will be given away to lucky ticket holders. Contestants will be judged by a panel of three music industry professionals. A popular feature was added to the event last year: The public will be able to vote on-line at for their favorite contestant.

“ROTARIAN IDOL” replaces the popular “Education Alive” television auction, which the Rotary Club used to raise funds for education for five years. Students continue to utilize monies raised from the successful event.

“It’s exciting to know that we’ve already made a $300,000 impact on education for everyone in the county. Over 20,000 books have been distributed to needy children because of our donations to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” Finley said.

Rotarian Idol Audition information may be viewed and printed using this link.

Rotarian Idol Audition application may be viewed and printed using this link.

For more information, visit, call John Rambo, Chair, at 327-3855 x 113 or Allen Finley at 324-6700, or email

General Info

  • Meeting Time:
    Thursdays from 12:00PM to 1:15PM
  • Meeting Location:
    430 17th Avenue NW,
    Hickory, North Carolina 28601