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FHU benefit dinner with Kurt Warner makes record

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Freed-Hardeman University’s 58th Annual Benefit Dinner with NFL Quarterback Kurt Warner, winner of Super Bowl XXXIV, raised nearly $1.7 million for student scholarships Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. The event’s success bumped fellow NFL quarterback Peyton Manning’s 2016 appearance at the event to third place, a highlight for Warner, who still enjoys competing off the field with other football greats. FHU’s 2010 Benefit Dinner with former President George W. Bush still holds the record for the most funds raised during the event.
Following remarks by FHU Board Chair Ted Williams, the opening act for the evening in Loyd Auditorium was the legendary Red Steagall and the Bunkhouse Boys. Then FHU President David R. Shannon and Warner took the stage for an interview style conversation.
Warner discussed life with his wife, Brenda, and their seven children and how he seeks to be present for and support them. He answered questions about his football journey that is portrayed in the movie “American Underdog” and talked about the importance of the nonprofit he and Brenda have founded, Treasure House (treasurehouse.org). Inspired by their oldest son Zack, they envisioned and created this community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be supported in developing meaningful relationships and contributing their gifts to society.
“Life is bigger than football,” Warner told the audience. “God had a plan. His divine hand was on everything, and I count myself as blessed. Sometimes life is a struggle, but we have to decide to be great everyday.” Warner also encouraged the audience to be a positive influence in the lives of others. “Don’t miss your moment to impact someone’s life,” he said. “It’s going to bear fruit down the road, whether we hear about it or not.”
FHU senior and Student Government Association President Kayley Wadlington also interviewed Warner, who shared that he credits his rags to riches journey to the NFL to his faith and related it to the story of David and Goliath. “God prepares you to face challenges, and you have to take the opportunity to be successful,” Warner said. Wadlington couldn’t resist asking Warner to revisit a time that she and her friends remember — when he was a guest star on the Disney series “The Suite Life on Deck.” “My kids at the time thought it was the coolest thing,” Warner said with a laugh. Wadlington asked Warner to provide some advice for soon-to-be graduates and those students just starting out. As he encouraged students to make their faith their own, he said, “We’re here for Him.”
The 58th Annual Benefit Dinner on FHU’s campus also featured the Merry Market hosted by the FHU Associates — a festive shopping experience. It was part of Christmas in the Commons, which brings carolers and a horse-drawn carriage to greet guests each year.
Shannon gave the audience an update about the university’s FHU Next campaign, a five-year plan to improve the physical environment, including Paul Gray dorm, Laurel Cottage, Loyd Auditorium, the ATPI Center and a new dining hall with a Chick-fil-A®. New academic programs include the PTA program and Doctorate of Ministry.
“We’ve had a three-pronged approach: God owns everything; we must be good stewards; and God blesses us, so that we may bless others,” Shannon said.
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson, Memphis and Dickson, FHU offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees. More information is available at fhu.edu.

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