We all have had school friends. They are those 'brothers-in-arms' that endure pop quizzes and semester projects with us. But how far would those school friends go for you, when you were in a time of need? Central Carolina Technical College student, Justin Tidwell has recently found out.
Mr. Tidwell was in the Criminal Justice program at CCTC. He was nearing the end of his studies, and looking forward to earning his degree. Then he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
"Justin was one of my students in the Criminal Justice program...we were close," said Mr. Chris Hall, who is the Program Manager. "He came in to tell me about his [medical] situation, and he was at the point of tears. That made me want to do something... to help somehow."
Hall is not only the Program Manager for Criminal Justice; he is also the Club Advisor for the Criminal Justice Association (CJA). The CJA is a student organization for those in the Criminal Justice program. Hall conferred with Refugio Banuelos, the club's president.
The result was the Criminal Justice Association Talent Show. The club worked exhaustively behind the scenes auditioning acts, promoting the event, and lining up judges and an emcee. The March 1st show was a hit. There were nine competitors, over 200 attendees (not counting children under twelve), and the show raised over $1000.00. All of the money raised went directly to the Justin Tidwell Fund.
On March 27th, the club got to present the check for monies raised to Justin Tidwell. CJA members Marisa Ford and Michael Horne, in addition to Banuelos, attended to make the presentation. Justin Tidwell was accompanied by his parents Raymond Tidwell, Lori Collins and Shane Collins. Students William Samuel and Eddie Rivera, and CCTC recruiter Jacob Herod, who were participants in the Talent Show, Dr. Tim Hardee, and other staff members at the College also gathered for the check presentation.
"We [the CJA] collectively put our heads together," said Banuelos. The entire club decided they wanted to do something to help out with the situation. "We also want to continually do something, to help you out, as both a club and as individuals," he said to Tidwell. Gesturing with the check, Banuelos added, "I wish it was more."
"It's greatly appreciated," replied Tidwell. "Thank you so much."
"At the end of the day, it comes to one student at a time," said Dr. Hardee, when the club asked if he'd like to say a few words. "It's easy to give money...it's not so easy to get people to give up their time. These people here see you as a good reason to do that," he said to Justin.
Prior to the presentation, Justin and Dr. Hardee had chatted about Tidwell's future plans. Those plans include a return to CCTC for the Fall semester. "When you come back in the Fall, stop by anytime. You're part of the CCTC family, and that's how it works," Hardee told Tidwell, referring to that earlier conversation.
Justin told those gathered that he would like to participate next time the CJA did another event like the Talent Show. "As much as they've helped me, I'd like to touch others' lives in the same way."
Mr. Tidwell has established his own organization, named T.R.A.C., which stands for Time to Rise Above Cancer (www.cafepress.com/tracshop). T.R.A.C. sells merchandise to help offset medical costs. He also has links from his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000291134660).
"He came up with it all by himself," Lori Collins, Tidwell's mother, proudly said, as she showed off her purple T.R.A.C. wristband. Gesturing to Justin's T.R.A.C. shirt he was wearing, she added, "It was all him."
© 2013 Central Carolina Technical College