Nothing in life is more powerful than someone who is willing to give of their time, leadership, and resources to an endeavor larger than themselves. It inspires others to the cause, reveals the best aspects of our humanity, and often serves as a catalyst for transformational change. This past week I had the pleasure of watching my friend, Gary Simon, accomplish something truly remarkable for one of High Point’s most important nonprofits, Communities in Schools (CIS). I am identifying Gary as a “fearless giver” because he has accomplished this remarkable achievement by sashaying into a competition that literally, as I sit typing at my office desk, paralyzes me with fear and trepidation. Yes, I am talking about “Dancing with the Stars!”

What has been so inspiring about this year’s event which raised more money than ever before, is that it happened because of a partnership born out of friendship, mutual respect and a common vision which led to a large matching gift that will be life-changing for CIS.  This is a huge win for High Point as CIS, under the strong leadership of Jennifer Reavis, is nurturing at-risk students and keeping them in school, which is key to the success of our local schools and our entire community.

It will come as no surprise to those who know Gary that he has a keen sense of commitment and a heart as big as High Point.  Whether it is supporting High Point University, the American Red Cross, Furnitureland Rotary, TAG, the High Point Community Foundation, High Point Regional Hospital, the downtown development efforts, Visit High Point, City Project Board, Challenge High Point, High Point Rockers and our latest addition, Carolina Core FC; Simon Jewelers, Gary and his wife, Sherri, have always been there to help.  They remind me of High Point’s older generation of benefactors who adamantly believe they had to earn the right to do business in this town by giving back and sharing their leadership, resources, and commitment.

Gary possesses that rare ability to inspire others to his cause and, in this case, his hard work, passion and sublime dance moves inspired another friend of mine, Doug Witcher. Now, Doug also has a big heart, a long history of philanthropy and a genuine love for the mission of CIS. He is a wise and discerning giver who quickly recognized Gary’s ability to organize, execute, and encourage others to dig deeper to support this worthy cause. I believe Gary’s commitment and drive so impressed and encouraged Doug that he agreed to make the largest single matching gift CIS has ever received.  Together they have dramatically raised the bar at CIS, and I am confident it is going to take the organization to heights they have never been to before.

I salute both Gary and Doug for their extraordinary partnership, achievement, and willingness to inspire our entire community to rally for a most worthy cause.  They serve as a powerful reminder of High Point’s reputation for being a community that always rises to a challenge to give, serve, and address the unmet needs of our most vulnerable populations.  If any of you want to help support the good work of Communities in Schools, contact Jennifer Reavis at 336.883.6434.

To Gary, I have to say, your fearlessness and poise on the dance floor has given new meaning to Hemingway’s ideal of “grace under pressure” and it has further reminded me to leave dancing to those with daring, expertise, and flare! For Good, For High Point, Forever…