The Catamount Club, Western Carolina Athletics’ fundraising arm, not only achieved but also exceeded its 2018-19 annual fund scholarship fundraising goal of $1.62 million to benefit Catamount student-athlete scholarships, finishing the fiscal year at $1.661 million.
In coordination with the Department of Athletics at Western Carolina University, the Catamount Club is charged with generating the resources necessary for the enrichment and leadership development of our nearly 350 student-athletes as they excel in the classroom and compete on their field of play.
In total for the fiscal year 2018-19 inclusive of donations to the Catamount athletic scholarship fund, Endowed Scholarships, and sport-specific contributions, the Catamount Club raised $2.326 million. This marked the third consecutive year that the Catamount Club raised over $2 million.
“Once again, Catamount Club donors stepped up and answered the call to not only move WCU Athletics forward, but also to have a transformational impact on the endeavors of our student-athletes,” said Ryan Jones, Assistant Athletic Director for Development and Director of the Catamount Club. “The outpouring of support from Catamount Club donors is felt constantly throughout all stages of our student-athletes’ experiences while in Cullowhee…to that we cannot say thank you enough."
In addition to the $1.661 million raised for student-athlete scholarships in the annual fund, fundraising activities during the golden anniversary year were highlighted with several special gifts and contributions.
In honor of the Catamount Club’s 50th anniversary, one generous Catamount Club donor and former student-athlete, Tad Grattan ’87, challenged the donor base with 500 new members or existing members to increase their annual gift by $50 to unlock Grattan’s $50,000 Challenge Gift. In true Catamount fashion, 652 donors participated in the 50th Anniversary Challenge. Not only was Grattan’s gift critical in surpassing the goal, but it also inspired six other families and corporations to join at the new Legacy Level of $50,000 annually in honor of the Catamount Club 50th Anniversary.
The Catamount Club is also very grateful to a lead gift from Gaither ’72 and Bev Keener of $16,000 on the final business day of the 2018-19 fiscal year to reach the annual fund scholarship fundraising goal. The Keeners used this gift to challenge others and to set WCU Athletics to exceed. A total of 57 donors stepped up on the final business day and many were inspired by hearing about the gift from the Keeners. The Keeners have been longtime supporters of WCU Athletics and have endowed several scholarships.
With the third-annual “Giving Tuesday” initiative through the Catamount Club, WCU’s Student-Athlete Academic Support Service team was able to purchase 13 new laptops to ensure our student-athletes have all the necessary resources to succeed in the classroom.
Finally, Mike Wade ’77 made a $1 million+ planned gift to support WCU’s Athletics and Arts scholarships and programs, marking one of the largest gifts given to the Catamount athletics program and one of the largest gifts ever by a former student-athlete. Wade created two endowed scholarships and named them after his mother and stepmother: The Billie and Barbara Wade Endowed Athletics Scholarship, with an estimated gift commitment of $450,000 for WCU student-athletes, and the Billie and Barbara Wade Endowed Arts Scholarship, with an estimated gift commitment of $50,000 for students majoring in a program in the David Orr Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts. The remainder of Wade’s gift is primarily designated for the discretionary support of WCU Athletics.
“While we have great reason to celebrate, we still have work to do as we look to continue to close the gap to accomplish our number one goal: to provide, and cover all, athletic scholarships to WCU student-athletes,” Jones stated. “The way we do this is by continuing to get more people involved and so they can see all of the great things going on in Cullowhee, and we still need your help in doing that.”
As the Catamount Club looks towards its next 50 years, WCU Athletics will continue to focus on developing student-athletes and finding success in creating quality ambassadors for WCU.
There is still time to join for the upcoming football season to obtain hospitality and parking benefits. For more information on how you can be a leader and leave a legacy for Catamount Athletics and become a member of the Catamount Club, please contact 828.227.3047 or email a staff member at email@example.com.