Guardian of wishes: Fundraiser honors Scott Hicks
by RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Jun 23, 2014 | 2209 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scott Hicks
A LARGE COLLECTION of family members attended the recent dedication of the newly named Scott Hicks Memorial Golf Classic which for the past 17 years had operated as the Spring Swing Golf Classic. In the back row, from left, are Kyle Harris, son-in-law; Tami Hicks, daughter-in-law; Jackson Hicks, grandson; David Hicks, son; Sonny Hicks, father; Kari Bender, niece; and Wes Hicks, brother. In the front row are Laura Harris, daughter; Brooklyn Hicks, granddaughter; Robin Hicks, wife; Patricia Hicks, mother; Kellye Bender, sister; and Andy Bender, brother-in-law. Contributed photo
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A widely respected community fundraiser that makes wishes come true for critically ill children has been renamed in honor of one of its leading dream makers — the late William Scott Hicks, a Bradley County native and 1977 graduate of Cleveland High School.

An owner of two family businesses — Hicks Sales and Universal Assemblies — the Raider alumnus who later graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, died last August.

But in life, Hicks was an advocate and longtime planning member of the Spring Swing Golf Classic & Auction, an annual, late-spring drive whose proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee.

Having just completed its 18th year, and having raised so far almost $600,000 collectively in support of children facing life-threatening illnesses, the former Spring Swing is now recognized as the Scott Hicks Memorial Golf Classic. The dedication came earlier this month when 120 golfers and 20 volunteers gathered at the Cleveland Country Club to test their merit on the links and in humanity.

Since its inaugural swing, the yearly classic has been coordinated by employees of three Cleveland-based Whirlpool operations — Whirlpool Cleveland Division, the manufacturing plant on Benton Pike; Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center, the call center on 20th Street; and Whirlpool GPO (Global Product Organization), which is the engineering and technology division operating at the plant site.

The Whirlpool team works closely with Make-A-Wish representatives, as well as with business partners and suppliers, in coordinating the established benefit.

Richard “Dicky” Walters, Whirlpool plant leader, was one of several guest speakers at the dedication which preceded the golf tournament on June 6. The auction half of the fundraiser is set for July 31.

In his comments, Walters said the Make-A-Wish event — whose goal this year is $45,000 — is being renamed to honor the memory, and the strong humanitarian convictions, of Scott Hicks. Of his many personal charities of choice, Hicks held a particular fondness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of its outreach to children.

“All of these proceeds go directly to Make-A-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee which then uses the money to make wishes come true for many, many children facing life-threatening medical conditions,” Walters told the large assembly of golfers, volunteers and donors. “One of the core beliefs of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is that these ‘wish experiences’ can be a life-changing event for the kids and for their families.”

Walters praised Hicks’ leadership, and his family’s involvement, in helping to keep the longtime fundraiser alive — not just because of the donations, but also due to the public awareness of Make-A-Wish made possible by the golfing event.

“Scott, his family and his business have been longtime partners and supporters of this event ever since it first began some 18 years ago,” Walters cited. “His involvement as a sponsor, committee member, coordinator and overall advocate for this cause has been instrumental in the success of this event.”

In scanning the crowd of golfing enthusiasts and youth activists, Walters acknowledged, “... My guess is that many of you knew Scott Hicks and I promise that if he ever met you, he considered you a friend. Scott Hicks never met a stranger.”

Walters added, “I also know that Scott and Make-A-Wish share the same belief ... that ‘sometimes all it takes is a seemingly small event to change someone’s life.’ I believe it is both fitting and appropriate to rename this event after Scott Hicks and I am honored to officially do that.”

Walters reminded the group the 2014 tournament would be the first without its leading advocate.

“I know if Scott were here today, he would have been doing the same thing he did the last 17 years ... shaking hands, greeting everyone and welcoming everyone,” the Cleveland plant leader stressed. “So, in honor of Scott, please turn to those around you and give them a high-five, a fist bump, a handshake or even a hug, and tell them to ‘... have a great day!’”

Another who remembered Hicks was Gary Nowlin, a member of the Whirlpool and Make-A-Wish planning committee whose Whirlpool job is based in Cleveland.

“At Scott’s funeral last year, the service was very moving,” Nowlin, who has volunteered with the fundraiser for years, offered. “We all knew Scott was a good man, but no one knew how far he reached to so many.”

Nowlin pointed to the words of a Hicks family member (David Hicks, his son) at the funeral who challenged “... all of us to do more.” Nowlin said the speaker also asked, “... are we ready, if death comes?”

“It stuck with me for awhile,” Nowlin acknowledged.

Shortly after the funeral, the Whirlpool team of volunteers began talking about renaming the golf tournament in honor of Hicks.

“One hundred percent agreed,” Nowlin stressed. “No one questioned the idea or anything. It was more of an attitude like ‘... of course, we have to do this.’”

Jill Helton, a material planner based at the Whirlpool Cleveland plant who also served on the planning committee, said this year’s tournament-winning team ironically was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Sonny Hicks, the parents of Scott Hicks. Team members were Andy Davis, Steve Rapier, Brent Collet and Jason Harden.

Whirlpool associates from all three functional areas worked closely with Make-A-Wish Foundation representative Stephanie Wilkins in planning this year’s fundraiser.

Now that the golf tournament half of the Make-A-Wish benefit has been held, the second half — the live and silent auctions — are just around the corner at the end of July. More information about the auctions will be published as it becomes available.

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About Scott Hicks: According to his obituary published after the civic leader’s death on Aug. 10, 2013, Hicks was described as one of the Cleveland community’s “finest members.” He was the son of Sonny and Pat Hicks, and the oldest of three children. His siblings include his sister, Kellye Hicks Bender and his brother, Wesley Patrick Hicks. His God-parents are Eddie and Milteen Cartwright.

He was married to Robin Roberts Hicks for 33 years and she was described as “... his best friend and the love of his life.” The obituary added of the couple, “The two were a shining example of a Christ-centered marriage.” They had two children: David Hicks and Laura Harris, both of Cleveland. The memorial pointed out Hicks loved his son-in-law, Kyle, and his daughter-in-law, Tami, as his own.

Hicks had four grandchildren and was an especially active member of First Baptist Church of Cleveland where he served as a deacon, a Sunday School teacher, a member of several committees, a leader of numerous Bible studies “... and an all-around servant and encourager of others.”

According to the obituary, “Scott was an enthusiastic patron of many local organizations and a willing helper to any individual in need. He was a great supporter of local schools and sports teams, volunteering his time and resources to help young people succeed.”

Hicks attended Mayfield Elementary School, Cleveland Junior High School, Cleveland High School and UTC.

Memorial donations were made in Hicks’ honor to People for Care and Learning, another Cleveland-based nonprofit organization whose outreach stretches deep within Bradley County and to distant lands where humanitarian need is greatest.

About Whirlpool Corporation, Cleveland Operations: The three functional areas of Whirlpool operating in Cleveland and Bradley County employ more than 2,000 workers. Whirlpool remains the largest employer in Bradley County.