Rotary Club honors three members

Rotary Club's Children at Play initiative gains District attention
Apr. 13, 2013 @ 10:00 AM

Thomasville Rotary Club honored three of its members who refused to give up on a playground project for Chair City children.

In a surprise show of appreciation, Rotary Club president Dr. Karl Milliren presented community service awards to Dr. Christian Brandyberry, Dr. David Williams and Kim Cecil during a recent luncheon at the Thomasville Women's Club. All three played a key role in the Rotary Club's Children at Play initiative that brought new playground equipment to all seven city parks last year.

"It's a big honor," Brandyberry said. "You can't do it alone. These awards are for everyone involved. It's good to see we can do stuff like this for the children of Thomasville. They're our future."

Children at Play almost never got off the ground when an international Rotary grant fell through three years ago. Thomasville Rotary Club members refused to give up on the project, however, and embarked on a communitywide effort to make the initiative a reality.

"The need was there," said Williams. "We thought it would be a really good Rotary project. We were disappointed we didn't get the international grant but it didn't die. Other people in the community stepped up." 

Brandyberry, Williams and Cecil spearheaded a fundraising campaign that included City Hall and Thomasville Medical Center. Within two years, Thomasville Rotary Club had raised the $300,000 needed to bring the Children at Play initiative to life.

"Three years ago, when we were putting the funds together for this we knew it would be a pretty large undertaking," Milliren said. "We felt like this would be an international grant Rotary would be interested in and they were. In the end, there were other needs across the world that became more important. This could've died. Our Rotarians kept the torch lit and ended up raising the $300,000 necessary to redo all the parks." 

With all seven city parks refurbished with new playground equipment, Children at Play enters its second phase focusing on education and parental involvement. Phase 2 is designed to promote nutrition education and physical activity through a two-pronged piece that will include targeted interventions involving local families. An application process is underway to select families for a nine-month program beginning this fall that will incorporate community partners such as the Thomasville Medical Center, Cooperative Extension and the YMCA in an effort to promote living a healthy lifestyle.

"It's working," Williams said. "The second part is important and that's to get the kids out and away from the computers and out on the playgrounds."

District Governor 7690 Rick Snider attended the luncheon and congratulated Thomasville Rotary Club members for its efforts within the community.

"This project is truly a selfless project and I commend them," said Snider.

Milliren also presented Brandyberry with a Rotary International Awareness of Service citation.

"This is something I just enjoy doing," Brandberry. "One person can't do it."


Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or