AWF Holds Annual Women of Vision Luncheon Honoring Leigh Cooper Wallace, Auctions Raise Funds

Published Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Chris Wallace, the husband of Leigh Cooper Wallace, receives a hug as he accepts the Woman of Vision award for his wife. Photo by Mark S. Kenna

By Mark S. Kenna

June 28, 2013. More than 230 people filled the Linville Ridge Country Club Thursday for the sixth annual Appalachian Women’s Fund’s Women of Vision Luncheon.

The Women of Vision Luncheon is held every year to celebrate a worthy community member.

This year, the Woman of Vision Award was given to Leigh Cooper Wallace, a beloved Watauga High School teacher and coach and former ASU athlete who passed away after a battle with pneumonia in December at the age of 43.

Wallace was also known for working with victims of sex crimes and speaking about her ordeal of being abducted and raped in 1989. Her husband, Chris Wallace accepted the award.

During the first two hours of the luncheon, participants enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres while bidding on various items from 105 donors totaling $30,000 in value.  This includes another $28,000 donated to the AWF from 23 main sponsors.

There was also a speech by guest speaker Katie W.  Katie, 33, was a victim of domestic violence who now works on the Crisis Hot-Line as an operator to help those in need.

Over five years, the AWF has raised over $300,000 for nonprofits in Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey and Watauga counties, said Debbie Stevens, treasurer for the AWF.

The luncheon started with a speech by AWF Chair Jean Brooks. She thanked all of those involved in the organization and added that it was important to be there for the people who help “women and girls” in the High Country.

“When I think of all the lives we have changed, it makes it all worth it,” Brooks said.

AWF started in 2007 with 75 members, public relations representative for the AWF Cathy Williamson said.  Now the organization has grown into more than 200 members working on projects year round, including planning and setting up for the Women of Vision Luncheon.

The money raised from the luncheon is divvyed out to different nonprofits, like the Hospitality House, Oasis and Children’s Council.

Todd Carter, director of development for the Hospitality House, mentioned the importance of the AWF for nonprofits, Carter said.  Over the past four years, the AWF has given a total of $50,000 to Hospitality House.

Aside from the silent auction, there was also a live auction with items like a trip for eight to Montana and a week stay in Ocracoke.  The five live-auction prizes raised around $9,000.

The cycle for applying for grant money from the AWF closes on Aug. 1, and winners will be presented sometime in September.


Photo by Mark S. Kenna



Photo by Mark S. Kenna



Chris Wallace, the husband of Leigh Cooper Wallace, receives a hug as he accepts the Woman of Vision award for his wife. Photo by Mark S. Kenna




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