Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene perhaps best summarized the response to the district’s first Polk Cares 4 Kids fundraiser.

“What an amazing community and what an incredible night,” Greene said.

That sentiment ran throughout the Tryon International Equestrian Center at the Feb. 1 event. The evening of food, fun, fellowship and philanthropy had a very clear theme – caring about Polk County kids. And Polk County rallied around the cause, as it usually does.

Businesses and organizations sponsored tables and donated items for the event. Attendees participated in three different auctions. Guests made donations to general and specific funds. Commitments were already being made for next year’s event.

When the dust settled, Polk County’s extremely supportive businesses, organizations and individual attendees and donors had contributed $36,000 to Polk County Schools and its students.

Amazing community, indeed.

From its inception, the event was intended to raise money for extracurricular programming in both athletics and academics. The goal was to ensure these impactful and important learning experiences continue, and that students do not have to begin paying fees for participation. As Polk County High School senior Sydney Waldman explained in the PC4K video shown at the event, “My favorite memory and one of the most rewarding experiences of my life would definitely be the trip to the state championships.”

Other students in the video mentioned learning how important teamwork and leadership are to achieving goals, and still others talked about how experiences helped them build confidence and make new friends.

“Passing a math test is important. Learning what you are passionate about, how to work with others and the promise of sacrifice and diligence is more important,” Greene said. “Our students thrive when they are involved in extracurricular pursuits because they are connected to the school and engaged in their education in different ways. Their grades are typically higher, their behavior is better, and they repeatedly comment about feeling a part of something bigger.

“These activities evidence their value in their ability to prepare our students for fulfilling productive futures.”

The night began with a reception and bidding on fishbowl and silent auction items. TIEC staff set up the Legends venue perfectly, and attendees were treated to outstanding cuisine at the buffet. Following dinner, the fun really started with the announcement of silent auction winners and Greene leading a live auction.

Grant Gibbs “stole” the Stott’s Ford used car at an exceptional price. Other auction items were heavily contested and most went for more than their actual value.

With 24 businesses and organizations participating as event and table sponsors, the event turned out to be a great success. This was the first PC4K and Greene confirmed that event organizers are already planning for next year.

“It was wonderful to have a diverse representation from our county in attendance and humbling to see so many people give so much in support of our students,” Greene said. “The event just kept getting bigger and bigger.

“Polk County is a special place. There was a ton of work done behind the scenes, and I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in making PC4K happen. Our students and schools are fortunate that Polk County cares about kids!”

Community members can still be a part of PC4K or help any specific sport, club, team or activity by sending contribution to the Polk Schools Fund at Polk County Community Foundation. Be sure to include a letter or note indicating how the donation should be used. Contact Aaron Greene at 828-894-3051 with any questions or if you would like more information.

PC4K Table Sponsors included:

Ashworth Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
Becker Electric
Bob & Judy Lair
Building Clarity
Columbus Baptist Church
David & Daryl Nelms
Edney Orthodontics
Epperson Tree Service
Forbes Foundation
Green River Adventures / The Gorge
Lasting Impression
MSS, Inc
Mainstreet Insurance Group
Nationwide – Dusenbury Insurance
Polk County Board of Education
Polk County Community Foundation
SmithIT Consulting
Southcorp Properties
St. Luke’s Hospital
Stott’s Ford
Trinity 3
Tryon International Equestrian Center
Turner-Tennant Foundation