Today is Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Empower Me Challenge nets more than $30K

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Lions Club President Skip Gaerte, left, and Treasurer Hiwanda Gaerte, right, present Empower Me Center Executive Director Michelle Hill with a $1,000 check as part of the Challenge for Champions fundraiser. "Coach" Donna Bane was credited for the donation

Officials with Empower Me Center are still counting donations from their recent Challenge for Champions fundraiser but said the total will top $30,000.

Throughout the fundraiser, locals were challenged to make a one-time gift of $1,000 or sign up to donate $100 per month for 10 months. Empower Me supporters and parents acted as "coaches" to solicit the contributions as part of a competition to see who could get the most "players" or money donated. The winning coach would receive a weekend getaway to Center Hill Lake.

Debbie Melvin of RE/MAX Exceptional Properties in Mt. Juliet was named the winner. She brought in more than $11,000 in donations. "I am totally committed to helping this awesome organization and will do anything that I can to see this project become a reality," Melvin commented.

"When we offered Debbie the weekend getaway, she wanted us to give it to the next person who got the most 'players,'" Empower Me Center Executive Director Michelle Hill said. "We told her it was a four-way tie. She then came up with the idea to donate it to our silent auction for the Day of Dreams event on Saturday, May 13, at Cumberland University's Nokes-Lasater Field. We are very thankful for all of her hard work and her generosity to try and raise even more money for our wonderful, special individuals.

"We are so grateful to all of our 'coaches' and everyone in the community who participated in this fundraising effort," Hill continued. "It will continue to take a lot of people being involved, whether making a monetary donation, volunteering with our organization or attending our various fundraising events. Thank you for helping us change the lives of these amazing individuals."

Funds raised via the event will go toward the first phase of the Empower Me Center project. Phase one will allow Empower Me to purchase 26 acres of land on South Hartmann Drive, build two cottages to temporarily operate their programs from and build a splash pad, adaptive playground and Garden of Dreams. Empower Me Center has raised over $1.6 million to date through in-kind gifts and cash contributions.

Empower Me Center will host a handful of free events in the coming weeks, including the No Place Like Home Baseball Tournament at Cumberland University on Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m., and the Day of Dreams on Saturday, May 13. To learn more, visit

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Challenge for Champions, charity, Debbie Melvin, Empower Me Center, fundraiser, Michelle Hill
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