Published on May 22, 2019 by Sarah Cain and Sharon Smith  

When senior Rick Charles stood to speak in front of the packed group inside Covenant Presbyterian Church, he knew each person in the room was truly invested in his story. 

Charles was speaking to the nearly 300 attendees of Samford’s Legacy League’s 11th annual Scholarship Celebration. The culminating event of the service organization’s year of fundraising marked an estimated $260,000 raised for life-changing scholarships for students with significant financial need and challenging circumstances. This year’s event was presented by sponsors John and Marsha Floyd ’85 and Samford Dining by Sodexo.

Senior Rick Charles and Scholarship Celebration event co-chair Paula Gossett.

Growing up in Haiti with inconsistent access to education, Charles felt intimidated at even just the thought of school. It wasn’t until working with his math teacher and Samford graduate Amanda McPhail ’10 that Charles began to feel encouraged he was destined for more. 

“Through math, she taught me even more about life and made me realize that I had a purpose in life,” he said. “I will never forget those times because those are the times that I told myself that I had potential. I had a purpose in life and I wouldn’t give up.”

Charles is one of 12 students currently receiving Legacy League scholarships. In addition to raising funds for scholarships, Legacy League volunteers encourage students through caring relationships, home-cooked meals, uplifting cards and exam treats.

“The moment I stepped on this campus, I knew I was part of a bigger family,” Charles said. “Everyone here is so positive and always making sure that no one is falling behind. It’s a family that serves, loves and protects you.”

As alumni and parents of a Samford student, John and Marsha Floyd felt naturally called to contribute to the organization’s mission in hopes of providing the same experiences they enjoyed at the university. In addition to serving as presenting sponsors, they have been longtime supporters of Legacy League. 

“We brought our son Hampton to the event and he recognized Rick [Charles] and they chatted about the classes they shared. It was special to know they share this community,” John Floyd said. “Each one of the students receiving these scholarships is a talented, articulate and gifted person. Hearing from them is such a joy because you can recognize their stories and know your money is making a difference.”

In addition to hearing from Charles, attendees enjoyed remarks from Legacy League volunteers including executive director Jeanna Westmoreland. She recognized outgoing officers and event sponsors who donated more than $70,000 to support the organization’s mission. 

The presenting sponsor for the reception and dinner, Samford Dining by Sodexo, served a sumptuous bill of fare for the special evening. Reception guests enjoyed an artisan cheese board, smoked salmon and crostini. The dinner menu featured a Boursin and spinach-topped petite filet alongside roasted fingerling potatoes and haricot verts. 

Following dinner, guests enjoyed a 90-minute concert by Grammy and Dove Award-winning tenor David Phelps.  Phelps’ daughters, Callie ‘17 and Maggie Beth, performed with him. The concert closed with “No More Night,” bringing the crowd to their feet. 

Reflecting on the evening, Legacy League President Harriet Williams said, “This event is treasured because every year our attendees not only enjoy a wonderful dinner and great entertainment, but they get to hear from our students and see directly how our mission is working.” 

The spectacular evening was planned by the Legacy League’s Scholarship Celebration Committee, co-chaired by Paula Gossett and Stacy Hall. Nearly 50 additional volunteers helped with invitations, publicity and decorations.  

The Legacy League, a volunteer organization with nearly 800 members ages 22-100, is currently finalizing 2019–2020 programming. Those interested in membership, upcoming events or donating can visit the Legacy League website.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.