Special to the Register
Renfro Valley was packed on Saturday, Nov. 10, with families from 18 Kentucky counties all celebrating the important roles that parents and grandparents play in education.
Berea College’s Office of Externally Sponsored Programs and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame hosted the event. The Berea office sponsors college access programs across the region, including GEAR UP, Promise Neighborhood, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math & Science, Educational Talent Search and i3.
The highlight of the day was a program featuring Nashville recording artist Jimmy Wayne, whose number one hit “Do You Believe Me Now” and top 10 hits “Stay Gone” and “I Love You This Much” brought star-power to the stage. Wayne performed and spoke to parents and students about his journey through the foster care system and the difference that one family made in his life.
“This family allowed me to stay in their home for six years. I was a 16-year-old-kid, had been homeless, had been living on the street, had been in the system, had gone to 12 schools in two years,” Wayne said. “This family gave me an opportunity to chase my dream. And not only to chase my dream, but to catch it.”
Local businesses and organizations donated door prizes for attendees. Currier’s Music World in Richmond and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame each donated a guitar. Dora Lewis, parent of a Madison County middle school GEAR UP student and Tyler Haste, a Breathitt County student, won the guitars and met with Jimmy Wayne backstage. Billy Rose, owner of the Berea Dairy Queen, donated an iPad, which was won by Jaime Lakes, a family member of a Madison County GEAR UP middle school student. The Rockcastle County Kiwanis Club provided door prizes, also. Local bluegrass group Sugartree also performed for families as they ate lunch and toured Renfro Valley.
Along with providing entertainment and prizes, the daylong event brought educators, program staff and parents together to focus on children’s success. Hasan Davis, Kentucky Commissioner of Juvenile Justice, spoke to students and their families about the power of being a role model. He said to parents and family members, “We as adults need to be looking at our children and the ones we love and tell them every day how much we believe in them.”