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Monte says

By Amy Ahern and Anastasia Vorobeva
On November 13, 2017


Monte Durham

On Nov. 2, area businesses said “yes” to education. Concord University’s annual Foundation Beckley-Raleigh County Dinner in Beckley, W.Va., hosted special guest Monte Durham, co-host of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.”

    This semester’s dinner gathered together Concord community friends and sponsors, Concord staff, and student body representatives to share a meal at the Tamarack, listen to live music, and a speech presented by Durham.

    Durham is a Southern West Virginia native who gained his popularity as a co-star at TLC “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.” He says he tries to come back home to WV as often as he can for different events and fundraising—last year, he helped West Virginia University to collect scholarship funds and helped WV broadcast raise money for flood victims among other activities.

    At the dinner, Durham talked about his experience of growing up in WV. “I had no idea we were poor, dressed or talked funny,” said Durham about his childhood in Oak Hill.

    “My parents never shooed us away from the store windows and said, ‘Get away from it, we can’t afford it,’” remembered Durham, talking about importance of a repeated positive message he grew up with.“What they said to me and my three sisters was ‘Get an education, get a job, stay in school, and you can get that and everything else you want.’”

    After the speech, Durham ran off the stage accompanied by applause as he prepared to depart to his next conference at the Homestead.

    “I’m hoping when they hear my story and how hard it is to work and to continue getting funding for education that they respect where they are and what’s being done for them and that they’ll take these degrees and give back to [the community],” Durham said regarding Concord students.

    “We have our regular people who support us no matter what we do, but we had some extra tickets sales this year because of his celebrity, I suppose, and then a few new sponsors we never had before,” said Besenyei, vice president for advancement office.

    Due to the help of sponsors including Princeton Community Hospital, Concord managed to bring in more students to attend the event.

    Student Representative, Chelsea Goins, said she enjoyed the dinner. “It was an honor to represent Concord students at the fundraising dinner!” she says. “Monte was such an inspirational speaker. He truly represents and honors West Virginia by demonstrating the importance of education.”

    Sarah Francher, president of Student Government Association, thought the dinner was inspirational as it gave an opportunity to be among such influential and successful alumni. “From the alumni to Monte, the message I took away from the evening was to dream big because no matter where you’re starting from, you can accomplish great things,” Francher said.

    “I am glad so many students came,” said President Kendra Boggess. “We don’t always get this many students. Because of our sponsors, students were able to come.”

    The raised money will go to the annual fund. Besenyei said that previous donations have gone to “scholarships, campus projects,” and even “equipment… one year…we were able to purchase new mats to protect the track,” she said.

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