‘$1 Million In One Month’ Campaign Gets Major Boost at Celebrity Telethon; More Than $60,000 raised in Four Hours

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With just a few days to go, TSU’s historic push to raise $1 million in February for student scholarships is all but certain, thanks to a huge showing of Big Blue spirit on Sunday.

Jamie Isabel, left, Chairman of the TSU $1 million campaign, talks to NBC local affiliate Channel 4 about the telethon and the overall goal of the campaign. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

A four-hour celebrity telethon, “Dialing for Dollars,” raised more than $63,000. It was well over the telethon’s $25,000 initial goal, bringing total campaign contributions to nearly $938,609. Within two hours of the telethon, volunteers had already surpassed the $25,000 mark, organizers said.

“Today is a good day. This showing of support is very tremendous,” said Campaign Chairman Jamie Isabel, a TSU alum. “We exceeded our goal, which I knew we were going to do. The excitement and sheer commitment to the cause by all who participated are responsible for the success we achieved.”

Volunteers, including prominent local TSU alums, make calls to personal friends and acquaintances to contribute to the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

In a historic, long-term partnership with the Nashville Predators, TSU announced the campaign on Feb. 2 to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships. Since then, activities have included a “TSU Night” at the Bridgestone Arena, with appearances by the Aristocrat of Bands and the New Direction Gospel Choir, as well as a Big Blue Old School Concert at the Gentry Complex.

The telethon, live streamed from Jackson Hall on the main campus, included guest hosts and alumni, students, staff, faculty, community leaders and supporters manning telephones and taking contributions from supporters. TSU President Glenda Glover, who was on travel, called in to thank organizers and volunteers.

TSU alums State Rep. Harold L. Love, Jr., and his wife Leah Dupree Love volunteer at the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Several prominent local TSU alums and supporters stopped by to help man telephones. They included TSU Board of Trustee member Richard Lewis and his wife, Delores, a former TSU administrator; Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, Jr., State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., and his wife, Leah; Barbara Murrell, longtime TSU supporter and former administrator; TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds; and Vivian Wilhoite, Nashville and Davidson County property assessor, among others.

Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, president of TSU from 1975-1985, who could not be present in Nashville, was among many who joined in from home and made calls to friends and acquaintances to contribute to the telethon.

Miss TSU Jada Crisp, left, and Head Football Coach Rod Reed, middle, were among many students and staff who volunteered at the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

According to Isabel, some major contributors were:  Dr. William F. Pickard, chairman of Detroit-based Global Automotive Alliance, a supporter of HBCUs, who contributed $10,000; and Nashville businessman Joe Davis, who sent in a check for $5,000.

“We had some large checks, but we also had some small checks and all those small checks added up to get us to where we are,” said Isabel.

Mr. TSU Damyr Moore, a senior mass communications major from Atlanta, and Eukirah Pennyman, a junior film and television major, also from Atlanta, were among many students who volunteered at the telethon. Moore helped with making calls, while Pennyman served as technical director.

Telethon hosts Grant Winrow, left, Seanne Wilson and Michael McLendon make a pitch at the four-hour long fundraiser. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The experience today has been a great one; to be among your peers and alumni toward one good cause that benefits the entire student body is just great,” said Moore. “To give my time and be able to help someone else come to school as I have been fortunate to do is really a great feeling.”

Pennyman agreed.

“I am from Atlanta, and I have been fortunate to have a few scholarships from TSU,” she said. “It was a good experience to have this telethon, which I think should be done every year because it helps to bring in more majors and more students.”

Cassandra Griggs is TSU’s director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, and co-chair of the $1 million campaign committee. She is very thankful to the many alumni who came out to make phone calls.

“They called individuals who were in their personal cellphone contacts, asking them to support TSU,  and that was very admirable,” said Griggs. “I feel very good that not only have we exceeded our goal for today, but we are going to meet our goal for the $1 million.”

Grant Winrow, a member of the campaign committee and one of the hosts of the telethon, called the day a “Big Blue Victory.”

“We went in with the idea of raising $25,000 and we more than doubled it. And that’s a phenomenal success,” said Grant, who helped organize the telethon. “This is in the last few days of our campaign, and we thought having a celebrity telethon by bringing in some of our most notable TSU influencers here to make some calls, was a great idea. It turned out very well.”

The next push to the finish line in the $1 million campaign is a celebrity courtside dining at the TSU men’s basketball game on Saturday in the Gentry Complex.

To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

Department of Media Relations

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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.