Category: News

September 11, 2017 Program and Events



Irene Sawyer-Founder

At the Rotary meeting, September 11, 2017, Irene Sawyer told her story of surviving breast cancer and the High Country Run/Walk scheduled for October 28th. Irene was an interesting presenter remarking she has a Chemo Brain and is a Blond and that during her presentation, she may forget where she is. That never happened as she provided facts and figures to emphasize the seriousness of this terrible disease. Irene told us that one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. In the United States there are 220,000 women die each year, after being diagnosed with this condition. Interestingly, while we normally associate breast cancer with women, 140 men will die this year with this disease. (Editor note: A friend of mine and a brother to Jane Rogers here in Blowing Rock, David Bolick, Professional Golfer, recently passed away with this very condition).

Irene said she was diagnosed in December of 2010. While sitting watching a football game with her husband, she told him of a small bump on her chest. Thinking it might be a mosquito bite, but not taking any chances, she had it checked out and sure enough it was a malignant tumor. 18 months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy with restructuring surgery, she now says she is cancer free, largely because of the early detection and her faith in God. No one fights alone, she said, there must be personal support groups, other survivors, community assistance, and passion in order to go through this process.

Irene is passionate about this cause, so much so, she has organized a 501c foundation to support those in the High Country who need assistance.  She has organized a run/walk for October 28th, which will start at 9:00 a.m. at the American Legion Hall, Blowing Rock, and wind its way through and around Laurel Lane, Mayview, and finally back to the Legion Hall. The entry fee is $20 and there are sponsorships available ranging from $250 to $5,000. Several Rotarians expressed an interest to adding their business to the sponsors list, along with Kenneth Werhmann’s  Monkees, already a sponsor. Irene said 100% of the money is plowed into scholarships, which include: Child Care, Pet Therapy, Support Groups, Wigs/Hats, Classes for Caregivers, Transportation Services, Career Workshops, Art Therapy, Nutritional Education and End of Life Support. None of the money is spent on staff, all workers volunteer their time and the money never leaves the High Country.

Auction Committee Meeting

Members of the Auction Committee and members of the Auction Committee met at 9:30a.m., September 11th to discuss distribution of the proceeds from the auction held August 29th at the American Legion Hall in Blowing Rock.

After all the expenses were tallied (credit card fees, software, the Villa in Italy (which the auction pays for at a reduced cost), their recommendation to the board is that the club will distribute $31,250.00 to charities that support families and children in our area-the original intent of the auction.

Board of Directors Meeting

Following the above meeting, the Board of Directors met and, in addition to other business, received the recommendation of the Auction Committee as outlined above.

Special Event Planned for October 9, 2017

Representatives the organizations that are to receive a portion of the funds from the auction will be invited to a special event scheduled for October 9th at which time each organization will receive a check and will be asked to say “very” briefly what this contribution means to their organization. All Rotarians in attendance that day and all the representatives of these organizations will gather in front of the Chetola Manor Lodge and have a group picture made.

August 21, 2017

Virginia Vanstory, Foundation Chairman, presented Wayne Holliday his pin and award certificate signifying him as a Paul Harris Fellow. PH Fellow awards are given to those who have contributed $1,000 or more to the foundation. Congratulations Wayne!


August 19, 2017

5th Annual Charity Auction A Huge Success!

John Calvin, Chairman of the Auction Committee, gave a preliminary report on the 5th Annual Auction results and gave thanks to all who helped, which was nearly everyone in the club. He recognized and gave tribute to several individuals who worked especially hard: Jim Clabough (unofficial Chairman), Jim Zellner, Mike Page, Ann Williams, Mike Capristo, Cullie Tarleton and Mellissa Pickett.

Even though we got off to a rather slow start, according to the unofficial results, our club netted over $31,000 (after expenses), which was slightly more than last year. The board and committee will meet as soon as the official results are accounted for and decide how to distribute the funds to the various local charities, for which the auction is held.

Next year’s auction date is set for August 25, 2018. It is not too early to start thinking about people or organizations to contact for donations to the effort next year.

Pictures from the auction:


Auctioneer Cullie Tarleton at the microphone soliciting bids from the many participants that were in attendance.

The silent auction also was well attended and most of the items were sold out.

Plenty of food and wine was made available by the Best Cellar (Rob Dyer & Lisa Stripling) and Sunset & Vine (Sharon Crissman).

New Member

Our newest member, Rita Griffith of Blowing Rock and Oviedo, Florida was inducted in to the club  Monday, August 14, 2017.  She and her late husband, Serge, first came to Blowing Rock around 17 years ago. They eventually bought a home near Bishop’s Ridge (near Tweetsie Railroad). Rita was born and raised in Washington, DC, where she worked for the State Department. She and her late husband, a Pharmacist, owned three drug stores and an upscale gift shop. They delivered prescription drugs for free, (unheard of in this day and age) and always gave medications, at no charge, to their customers on Christmas Day .

When they purchased their home in Blowing Rock, she and Serge started working in the Hunger & Health Coalition’s pharmacy. After her husband passed away, Rita continued on at the pharmacy two days a week. She has been doing that now for 15 years. She is on the entertainment committee at Blowing Rock Country Club where she is a member.

She is looking forward to this new chapter in her life as a member of our club. She says she believes that if God has given people a lot, they owe that back to their society and environment. Let’s be sure to welcome Rita and put her to work (she already volunteered at the horse show gate).




Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available at no charge prior to and during the live auction.


Important Note to potential bidders. To facilitate faster checkouts, upon arrival, you will be checked in and asked to provide your email address and if you plan to pay with a credit card you will be asked to swipe it to a card reader (optional). This process is secure and will only be used that evening to charge your card for whatever you purchased.


The signature auction item to be offered is this Oil Painting on Linen by Kevin Beck.
“Bamboo Sunrise” is original and has a value of $3,500. Beck is a renowned local artist and his works have been published in many media outlets such as, “Our State Magazine”, 2015 Plein Air Magazine. Kevin was born in rural Ohio and gained his BS degree from Bowling Green State University, Albert Handell Studio, Plein Air, Robert Rohm Plein Air Painting, Art Institute of Canton, Ohio. We expect this painting to be displayed prominently in the home of one lucky bidder, August 19th.
Many thanks to Judi & Kevin Beck for their donation of this valuable piece of art.


Shown Below are some of the additional items that will be auctioned off:
Joan Sporn Original Oil Painting – Estimated Value $1,900

Nancy Brittelle Original Watercolor “No Way In”- Estimated Value $700

Carolina Panthers Football-Personally Signed by Luke Kuechly
Estimated Value = Priceless

Autographed Larry Csonka Miami Dolphins Jersey from the year they were undefeated
Estimated Value $800.

Willi Armstrong Acrylic Painting-Estimated Value $900

As of this date 8-6-2017 there are a total of 95 items to be auctioned including:
Original paintings,
Restaurant Gift Certificates
Home Decor
Traditional Tarheel Barbeque for 24 people at your home
Sporting Equipment & Events
Personal Care
One Week Stay at La Limonia Villa Near Lucca, Italy
Golf Packages

July 17, 2017- Program and Events

According to Jeff Stanley, founder of Wahoo’s, Swift Water Rescue, now widely acclaimed, got started by accident right here in the high country. It seems that on one of their rafting trips the raft got stuck on a large rock in the middle of the river and while trying to rectify that situation they created a method to rescue individuals trapped in fast rising waters. This effort now has national and world wide acceptance as the standard for swift water rescuing efforts. A flood in 1988 on the Guadalupe River in New Brunsfield, Texas, where people drowned, prompting the fire department to contact Jeff to learn proper technique for any future requirements  Jeff trained the staff of departments as far away as Costa Rico and California. Closer to home one of the top swift water rescue teams in America is located in Charlotte, NC and was initially trained by Jeff. They now are dispatched all over the country where rescue efforts are needed. A few years ago Wahoo’s Adventures was featured on ABC Television’s Rescue Call series, highlighting their rescue on Wilson Creek. The half-hour nationally broadcast program featured the dramatic rescue of several campers, including a woman and her 18 month child, from the flood ravaged waters of the Wilson Creek Gorge. It goes without saying this program is quite a big deal for his organization and for river safety all over the world.

Jeff graduated from Appalachian State University and jokingly refers to himself as Dr. of Water Science. In its 39th year, Wahoo was first know as www (White Water Wrafting). Computers and certainly not the internet had not yet been developed and little did Jeff know that his company would have the same designation as the World Wide Web (www).Wahoo’s is number one on Trip Advisor and is the only outfitter to garner top honors two times as Outfitter of the Year by Professional Paddle Sports Association. His experienced staff, some of whom have been with him for more than 25 years, regularly conduct tours for 400 to 600 persons a day during season. Clients can choose to canoe, inner tube or stand up paddle board to float down the river, mostly on the New River, which originates right hear in Blowing Rock. The floats are easy and many senior citizens regularly join the float. They have constructed a 2500 two story out post building that is equipped with an indoor dining/meeting area, expansive decking overlooking the river, clean bathrooms, and hot showers.

One of the more interesting trips is down the Nolichucky River in Tennessee where the elevation changes sixty six feet per mile and takes about 5-5½ hours round trip.