At the 2010 luncheon, two speakers addressed the meaning of being a member of the Byrnes extended family. Bill Hobbs, the husband of a Scholar, and Daitin McCraw, the son of a Scholar, share what the Bynes Scholarship has meant to them.
Following is the text of Bill's remarks at the Byrnes Foundation 47th annual luncheon, June 12, 2010. Bill is the husband of Kristine LaSalle Hobbs, a 1989 Scholar and James F. Byrnes Foundation Director.
I appreciate the honor and privilege of speaking to you today and I want to personally thank Natalie Owens and the Scholars Board for asking me to do this. When I was first contacted by Natalie a few months ago, I thought, Wow, this is great … I can get back on the speaking circuit again. You know make a little side money … then she told me what the pay was … and that I only had 5- 6 minutes to talk … and that was humbling … difficult for a man with my ego to grasp. It takes me longer to write a traffic ticket. Needless to say, I’m going to get straight to the point here.
I also want to thank my wife Kristine – a 1989 scholar – for letting me get up here and speak. I know that took real courage on her part. Anyway, again it is a real honor for me and I appreciate the opportunity.
The BIG Questions:
Being the spouse of a Byrnes’ Scholar has meant a great deal to me and my family over the years and I have benefited immensely from my relationship with this family. And this is a family for those of you being inducted into it today. Indeed, I consider this to be my second family and I’ve been around for 21 years.
I’ve learned a great deal from those in this family in all that time. I’ve known and experienced laughter, joy, admiration and devotion. More importantly, over the years, I’ve witnessed and felt what it is like to have true-pure friendship displayed towards me.
I’ve met incredible people. I’ve seen incredible people do incredible things. I’ve seen incredible people rise above unbelievable bad situation and to accomplish their life goals and to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I’ve also watched how this family heals and nurtures its members through love and kindness and prayer. This foundation certainly has done this for my wife.
You know I’ve always lived by the old saying that “you get out of something what you put into it.” But I’m not convinced that applies to the Byrnes’ family. Here I believe you get out a lot more than what you put into it. I say that because this scholarship, to me - an outsider looking in, if you will - is not about money. It’s not about giving these young people a chance at a dream of going to college. It’s about love … friendship … and family. Things that no amount of money can ever buy.
These things that you get by being in this family, you get unconditionally and without effort. You can go anywhere in this state or this country, for that matter, and it you run into a Byrnes Scholar, you get an instant friend, an instant supporter, and someone who understands. Someone who knows where you’ve been and what you’ve been through. Those of us who are not scholars will probably never truly understand that feeling.
One sad note, I’ve always been a bit perplexed by those who have received this scholarship and went on to graduate from college, then never returned to be a part of this family or do anything. That’s king of “missing the forest for the trees”, so to speak.
What else did I get from know this family? When Kristine and I were discussing this the other day at breakfast, my son Will overheard us. He stated, “Dad, you got a wife who went to college so she could make lots of money.” We both burst out laughing knowing that Kristine has been at home with both of the boys for the past nine years. It is true that she got to go to a great school, Furman University, and that she received a wonderful education. But I feel as though that was just the “tool” that allowed her to become the fantastic person that she is. I guess you could day that is yet another benefit to receiving this scholarship … the benefit of realizing your fullest potential… the benefit of the chance to become the best you can be in life. And with that, you get the chance to pass that on to others. Dr. John C. Maxwell, the speaker and New York Times best selling author says, “Keep growing and you will keep going”. You can learn and grow a lot from the people in this room today.
As for advice to current students and those receiving their scholarship today, I offer this, A wise man once told me two things: first he said, “when the sun shines, Bill, make hay”. Secondly, “make the most of your mosts and the least of your leasts”.
I stand hear today to tell you that the sun is, indeed, shining on you. Here. Right now. And no matter where you go, what college you attend or what you’re doing you have a family and a group of folks here that are going to love you and be here for you and support you for the rest of your life. They are going to always want what’s best for you. They are this scholarship … they are the James F. Byrnes Foundation. They are and will always be, one of your “mosts”.
Following is the text of Daitin's remarks at the Byrnes Foundation 47th annual luncheon, June 12, 2010. Daitin is the son of Deaver D. “Dee” McCraw III, a 1978 Scholar and James F. Byrnes Foundation Director.
Good afternoon. When I was asked to speak today about what the James F. Byrnes Foundation has meant to me in my life, immediately three words came to mind: Love, Family, and Loss.
When thinking of love with regard to the Foundation, I right away think of past Super Weekends. Upon stepping off the bus I was always greeted by Rev. Norton with open arms. For those of you who were not fortunate enough to meet Rev. Norton, I can tell you he was a big teddy bear. He would without a doubt embrace me, ask me how I was doing, and of course if I was keeping my dad straight. I would in return tell him yes, but it was without a doubt a full-time job.
Having been able to grow up with this organization in my life, I can truly say that the people in it are my family, many of whom are in this room. What other foundation can bring together college students three times a year at most, beginning their freshman year, and have them instantly become family. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been privileged to watch the different classes move through their college careers, each year becoming closer and closer, becoming a tighter unit. From the moment they meet at their first June Luncheon until their final Super Weekend, these students have laughed with one another, wept with one another, and confided in one another things that many of their closest relatives may not even know. The bond formed between the scholars in this foundation is something that cannot even be put into words; its something that must be experienced. Being able to stand on the outside and watch has impacted on so many different levels.
The final word that came to my mind when reflecting on the meaning of the Foundation in my life was loss. Now one might think of this as being morbid. But in reality, its what makes this foundation so meaningful to all of us. This one word, loss, is what encompasses the meaning of the foundation and is why we are all here today. However, I never really thought of what the meaning of this word with respect to this foundation was until this past year at Super Weekend.
Earlier this year in January, I lost a close friend in college. Not ever losing someone I was close to, I had no clue what to do, how to handle it. The one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to move on with my life. I had all these built up emotions inside me fueled by questions like, “why?”, and “why did this have to happen to me?”. It wasn’t until this super weekend that I finally had closure on the matter. After listening to the rising sophomores' stories, I felt a sense of peace about the death of my friend, an overwhelming sense of embrace. It hit me that morning standing on the beach what this foundation means to so many of the scholars and to me. Its this single, tragic part of life - Death; and yet stemming from it are two of the most important parts of life - Love, and Family, two characteristics that are abundant in this organization and what we thrive off of.
In closure, I would like to leave the incoming freshman with a charge. Get involved as much as you can! Sure, you get a check for school and books, but this foundation is so much more than just financial aid. Many of the people you meet through out your four years of being a scholar are people who will be in your weddings, people who will be with you when your children are born, and people will be at your funeral. I encourage you to put yourself out there, become involved, step out of your comfort zone, and I can assure you the benefits you will reap from the James F. Byrnes Foundation are ones that will change your life.
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