LAURINBURG — The Pilot Club of Laurinburg held its annual awards night Thursday in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church.
Friends and fellowship was a theme that carried throughout the dinner and awards presentations. The program began with guest speaker Carol Nichols, director of the Scotland County Special Olympics.
Nichols talked about how she and husband Ken moved to Laurinburg in the 1970s and felt compelled to get involved in her new community.
“I got involved in the junior service league, then as my children grew up I found myself helping out with PTA and other clubs they were active in,” she said. “Once they left home, I decided I needed to find something dear to my heart that’s where the therapeutic riding program at St. Andrews came in.”
Nichols talked about how seeing the children with disabilities change when they got on the horses at the equestrian center at St. Andrews inspired her to volunteer for Special Olympics — and the rest is history.
“I’ve been the Special Olympics coordinator for going on 10 years,” she said.
Little did Nichols know that her contributions to Special Olympics would earn her the 2017-18 Community Service Awards from the Pilot Club.
Nancy Reichner, brain minders chair, presented her dear friend with the award and apologized for keeping the secret.
“My friend I have lied to you for so many months and I hope you can forgive me,” Reichner said. “You’ve done so much for this community through Special Olympics. Carol, thank you for all you do, your effort, time and energy and the love you put into everything you do for Laurinburg.”
The Pilot Club members kept the surprises coming as two members received the Pilot of the Year Award, a club first according to presenter Sylvia Stewart.
“For the first time in 46 years, we had a tie. I want you to know how special it is to recognize to fine members that have made such wonderful contributions,” Stewart said.
The nominations were made via secret ballot and the winners were Doris Donovan, the club’s Adopt A School chair, and Ann Steinbrink.
Membership chair Debbie Neverve presented current Pilot Club President Leslie McLaughlin with the Leadership Award.
Prior to the awards, teachers from North Laurinburg Elementary School and Carver Middle School each presented photos of what their special needs students used the funds they received from the Pilot Club.
McLaughlin concluded the banquet by presenting each of the club’s 29 members with certificates of appreciation for their years of service to the club. Stewart was the longest serving member with 46 years followed by Sarah Logan with 43 years.
In total, the 29 members have combined for 556 years of service to the community.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]