NAACP event gives in­spi­ra­tion and ‘HatAt­ti­tude’

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By CARL HAMILTON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— There was plenty of “HatAt­ti­tude” in­side the Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Ball­room on Satur­day.

The 115 peo­ple who at­tended the eighth an­nual Pre-Mother’s Day HatAt­ti­tude Brunch clearly im­mersed them­selves in the theme, show­ing up in hats of all styles and col­ors, from pea­cock-showy to un­der­stated.

There were fe­do­ras, porkpies, Easter bon­nets, cloches and ver­sions of pill­boxes,

NORTH EAST

just to name a few. Some looked like floppy beach hats. At least one of them – a blue and white beret num­ber – had been cro­cheted.

But the event, which is spon­sored by the Ce­cil County branch of the NAACP, went be­yond peo­ple parad­ing around in a wide va­ri­ety of cha­peaus, en­joy­ing a boun­ti­ful brunch and even tak­ing part in a lit­tle bit of danc­ing.

It raised funds to cover four of the five $500 col­lege schol­ar­ships that this county’s NAACP branch awards to a grad­u­at­ing se­nior at each of Ce­cil County’s five pub­lic high schools, to­tal­ing $2,500 in money to help pay for higher ed­u­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Rev. El­yse Mur­ray, pres­i­dent of the lo­cal NAACP branch.

Pro­ceeds for the cause were gen­er­ated through a silent auc­tion and raf­fle ticket sales dur­ing the HatAt­ti­tude Brunch, which, as one of the event’s bonuses, al­lowed at­ten­dees to cel­e­brate Mother’s Day eight days ahead of time.

The Ce­cil County NAACP branch makes a $500 do­na­tion to pay for one of the schol­ar­ships, while money raised from the brunch cov­ers the re­main­ing four schol­ar­ships, Mur­ray said. Al­though the schol­ar­ships are cham­pi­oned by the NAACP, any Ce­cil County pub­lic high school se­nior is el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for one, she added.

“Peo­ple ask me all the time, ‘Is this just for black kids?’ The an­swer is no. It is for any stu­dent,” Mur­ray said, not­ing that past schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents have been white and Asian, as well as black. “All they need to do is go to a school coun­selor, get the ap­pli­ca­tion and write the es­say. I en­cour­age them (grad­u­at­ing se­niors) to do so.”

One of the few men in at­ten­dance Satur­day was Nor­man Web­ster Sr., of Elk­ton. Clad in a derby-style hat with a plaid band, Web­ster has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the HatAt­ti­tude Brunch’s “first male hat win­ner,” an honor he re­ceived two years ago after the an­nual Hat Pa­rade.

“Any­thing for ed­u­ca­tion, I’ll cross any type of line to sup­port that,” Web­ster said.

Elder Cather­ine Doreen Pritch­ett, pas­tor of the Faith Unity Fel­low­ship Min­istries in Dover, Del., served as the mis­tress of cer­e­monies dur­ing Satur­day’s event.

One of the guest speak­ers was Wil- liam Tip­per Thomas, a 29-year-old for­mer three-sport ath­lete who grad­u­ated from Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing – de­spite a life-al­ter­ing in­ci­dent that oc­curred dur­ing the end of his se­nior year of high school.

Dur­ing his riv­et­ing and in­spi­ra­tional speech, Thomas told the au­di­ence that he planned to at­tend Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity on a foot­ball schol­ar­ship he earned. Thomas also told the crowd that, since he was a boy, he had dreamed of at­tend­ing that col­lege and of play­ing on its foot­ball team, the same one on which his fa­ther played.

But a few weeks be­fore his high school grad­u­a­tion, a shoot­ing in­ci­dent oc­curred on school prop­erty and – even though he was a flee­ing, in­no­cent by­stander – Thomas suf­fered gun­shot wounds that left him per­ma­nently par­a­lyzed from the waist down.

Be­cause his fa­ther had in­stilled in him the value of ed­u­ca­tion, how­ever, Thomas elected to use his mind, rather than his body, to make a pos­i­tive im­pact in the world.

Thomas works full-time as a sys­tems en­gi­neer. He spends his free time as an advocate for youth and for peo­ple who live with dis­abil­i­ties. He also serves as a men­tor, a ser­vant leader and an in­spi­ra­tional speaker – which is how Thomas per­fectly func­tioned Satur­day dur­ing the HatAt­ti­tude Brunch.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMILTON

Women tot­ing their pur­chases walk away from the 19th an­nual St. Mary Anne’s Gar­den Mar­ket in North East on Satur­day.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMILTON

Per­ryville res­i­dents Sharon Thomp­son (left) poses with her daugh­ter, Jes­sika Bur­ton, dur­ing Satur­day’s event.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMILTON

Margaret Brown, co-chair of the Ce­cil County branch of the NAACP’s HatAt­ti­tude Brunch com­mit­tee, smiles dur­ing Satur­day’s event.

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