On April 8, 2017 an enthusiastic crowd at Lenoir Rhyne University’s P.E. Monroe auditorium greeted contestants competing in the Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory’s eight annual Rotarian Idol fundraiser for local educational initiatives. Auditions in February narrowed the field of contestants to 20 finalists competing for $5,000 in total prize money. Saturday night’s finalists were: Jennifer Aderholdt, Mary Elisabeth Ballard, Serena Cain, McKenzie Call, Victoria Carver, Caroline Collins, Joshua Costello, Krystal Heffinger, Davey Huffman, Jason Lee, Tameka Morales, Shaun Pearson, Julie Phillips, Dave Privette, Jordan Randall, Brittany Setzer, Nathaniel Shoun, Annie Walshak, Johnny White and Chia Vang.
Three judges, John Coffey, LaKeisha Ross and Nathan Hefner, were faced with the difficult task of selecting three prize winners from the twenty outstanding 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 John Rambo and Rotarian Idol Co-Chairs Sandi Fotheringham and Lynn Loehr. First prize of $2,500 was awarded to Johnny White. The second place check for $1500 went to Caroline Collins and the third place prize of $500 was presented to Joshua Costello. Caroline Collins also received another check for $500 as the winner of the “Audience Favorite” vote.
|Johnny White – 1st Place||Caroline Collins – 2nd Place|
|Joshua Costello – 3rd Place||Caroline Collins – Audience Favorite|
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The real winner again was education. This year’s contest is expected to raise around $70,000 bringing the total raised for 8 years of Rotarian Idol competitions to over half a million dollars. 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 Rotary International humanitarian efforts. Event proceeds also support the Catawba County Partnership for Children’s Imagination Library program, which was created by Dolly Parton and 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 $137,000 to the Imagination Library making the purchase of 68,500 books possible. Imagination Library Currently serves about 5,200 children per month.
Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory would again like to acknowledge and thank this year’s title sponsor Lenoir-Rhyne University. Other major sponsors included Adventive (A-1 Printing), Café Rule (stage sponsor), Catawba Valley Community College, Catawba Valley Medical Center, Exodus Works, FOCUS Newspaper, Hickory Daily Record, Mike Johnson’s Hickory Toyota, KICKS 103.3 FM, IWANNA , WBTV Channel 3 in Charlotte and WHKY-TV Channel 14 in Hickory.
Hal Row, local radio personality, served as master of ceremonies.
Rose Mary Cheek of Rose Mary Cheek Photography documented the event with photos.
The Hickory Rotary Club was founded in 1921 by Watt Shuford. The club has a long history of giving back to the community through its primary service avenue of education. For more information about the Hickory Rotary Club, visit www.hickoryrotary.org.