On May 17, 2019 an enthusiastic crowd at Lenoir Rhyne University’s P.E. Monroe auditorium greeted contestants competing in the Rotary Club of Hickory’s 10th Anniversary All Stars Rotarian Idol fundraiser for local educational initiatives.
This year’s event format featured previous winners competing to advance to a second round of competition where the field was narrowed to five contestants competing for the All Star title.
The special commemoration of Rotarian Idol’s 10th Anniversary featured 9 past winners from the events nine previous contests. Contestants competing in the 2019 All Star event included: Jennifer Canterbury – First Place 2014; Caroline Collins – Second Place 2017, Audience Favorite 2017; Joshua Costello – Third Place 2017, Audience Favorite 2015; Carol Anne Hartman – First Place 2010; Courtney Chay Hopkins – First Place 2016; Kendra Kitler –Third Place 2018, Third Place 2016; Sara King – First Place 2018; Savannah Spencer – Third Place 2015; and Johnny White – First Place 2017.
Three judges, LaKeisha Ross-Johnson, Kurt Sigmon, and Brittany Suttles were faced with the difficult task of selecting five contestants to advance to the second round of competition and from that group the ultimate winner. Patrons who attended the event selected the audience favorite.
After the first round featuring all contestants performing, Carol Anne Hartman, Courtney Chay Hopkins, Sara King, Kendra Kitler and Johnny White advanced to the second round of performances to compete for the All Star title. All contestants remained eligible for the Audience Favorite award.
Final deliberations complete; the prize winners were announced and presented checks by Rotary Club of Hickory President Linda Lutz and Rotarian Idol Co-Chairs Bonita Ferretti and John Rambo. First prize of $2,500 was awarded to Carol Anne Hartman. Jennifer Canterbury received a check for $500 as the winner of the “Audience Favorite” vote.
The real winner again was education. This year’s contest is expected to raise around $70,000 bringing the total raised for 10 years of Rotarian Idol competitions to well 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. The Rotary Club of Hickory has contributed $162,000 to the Imagination Library making the purchase of 81,000 books possible. Imagination Library Currently serves about 5,200 children per month.
The Rotary Club of Hickory was honored to have Rotary District 7670 Governor Isaac Owolabi and Rotary District 7670 Governor Elect, Tiffany Ervin, spoke to the audience about how Rotary benefits the local communities they serve and participates in global wide initiatives such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to eradicate polio worldwide. Rotary District 7670 includes 50 clubs in Western North Carolina.
The Rotary Club of Hickory would again like to acknowledge and thank this year’s title sponsor, Lenoir Rhyne University and stage sponsor Café Rule. Other major sponsors include Exodus Works, A Sign Co., Mike Johnson Hickory Toyota and media sponsors: Focus Newspaper, WHKY 1290 AM/102.3 FM and Kicks Radio 103.3 FM.
Hal Row, local radio personality, served as master of ceremonies.
Bob Huffman of Bob Huffman Photography documented the event with photos.
The Rotary Club of Hickory 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