Bryan Knox

Auctioneer Bryan Knox looks for bids during the live auction portion of the Wallace State Future Foundation’s annual luncheon Wednesday afternoon.

HANCEVILLE — The Wallace State Future Foundation raised more than $200,000 to provide financial aid to the college’s students during the foundation’s annual Student Investment Luncheon and Auction Wednesday afternoon.

Auction goers gathered in Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum for a silent auction featuring baked goods and home items, as well as a live auction led by auctioneer Bryan Knox that featured bigger-ticket items like vacation rentals, a gold necklace and a football signed by Nick Saban.

The two auctions — plus a round of donations from visitors once all the items were sold — ended with a total of $223,900 raised in just a couple of hours.

Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics opened the afternoon event by welcoming everyone back to the college for a live auction for the first time in two years, after last year’s event was a virtual-only affair.

“We have truly missed seeing and interacting with our donors and our scholarship recipients over the last 18 months,” she said.

Along with the lunch prepared by Wallace State’s culinary department, attendees were also treated to a video featuring many of the students who have been recipients of scholarships that were funded by the Future Foundation and the donations that are gathered at each year’s luncheon.

Future Foundation Board President Bill St. John spoke to the crowd about the benefits that the Future Foundation provides not just to Wallace State students, but to the community as a whole.

He said local businesses need skilled employees to join the workforce, and 80 percent of the employees in his own business have attended Wallace State at some point to get the skills they need.

“I don’t think we could have done what we do in my business for the last 30 years without the pipeline of talent from Wallace State,” he said. “And I can’t think of a business in Cullman that hasn’t benefited from that resource.”

While Wallace State provides that pipeline for talent to the area, not everyone in the area has the resources to take advantage of that opportunity, and that’s where the Future Foundation and its scholarships are able to provide support, St. John said.

Over the past decade, the Future Foundation has awarded more than $1.6 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students, with many of those recipients now working as the talent that is moving Cullman forward, he said.

“We are about spreading opportunity, and those opportunities are powered by each of you,” he said.

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238.

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