Calling Cullman County athletes

CATA teacher promotes Wallace State scholarships with autograph drive

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Former Cullman standouts Lawson Schaffer (24), Brontae Harris (1) and Claire Jenkins (33). (photos by UA & UAB Athletics)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Area Technology Academy building construction teacher Mike Burkett is looking for some of the Cullman area’s best known athletes to put pen to paper for a worthy cause. He hopes that the auction of framed collections of the autographs of those who went on to play for the University of Alabama or Auburn University will raise funds to support scholarships at Wallace State Community College. 

Burkett told The Tribune, “As a fundraiser for the WSCC Future Foundation Scholarship Auction set for this fall, I want to try and get autographs from any and all UA or AU athletes from Cullman County on respective large size posters. These would then be nicely framed and glassed and placed for bids in the auction.” 

He has a few names already but is looking to contact any Tide or Tiger athletes who would like to help. 

Said Burkett, “I want to try and get as many names as possible.” 

Why fund the Future Foundation? 

Burkett’s reasons for seeking to fund Wallace State’s Future Foundation were deeply personal, as he related: 

“I love the Future Foundation. Suzanne Harbin and her staff do a wonderful job. They make it so easy for the donors and they do such a great job with the recipients, not only with their funding for school, but in teaching them life lessons too. Several of my former CATA Carpentry/Construction students have benefited from WSCC FF scholarships, and my class annually donates a gazebo or storage building that they have built in class to the auction as a community service project. 

“When we lost my brother Richard in 2015, it was devastating to my family. The foundation was so instrumental in helping my family honor my brother’s memory with a scholarship in his name, but their kindness and understanding, and the ease of setting it up also helped us start to deal with the grieving process and gave us the ability to move forward. Since that time, we have worked to not only raise money for the RJB Memorial Scholarship fund, but to also help promote the foundation in its overall mission. 

“To me, my brother represents all the people who never got an opportunity to attend college and who went on to noble work to provide for their families.” 

Three students have attended Wallace State via the scholarship given in memory of Burkett’s brother:   

  • Nathan Fuchs, Blountsville, studying HVAC 
  • Haley Self-Tumlin, Warrior, studying Building Construction 
  • Alex Black, Holly Pond, beginning Engineering Technology fall 2021   

Said Burkett, “We are proud of each and every one of them.” 

Raising funds, recognizing Cullman County’s athletic achievements 

Burkett shared, “All proceeds from this current autograph project will go towards the WSCC Future Foundation general scholarship fund, and at the same time, will promote  athletes from Cullman County.  Actually, I’m sure there are many others from Cullman County that are or were athletes for other Alabama universities, and maybe we can somehow incorporate them into this project as well. Developing and maintaining a Cullman County athlete database would be awesome, and could be useful for other organizations to have access to for guest speakers, leadership, training, mentoring etc. 

“This is all very preliminary and under development. Right now, we are looking for help via (The) Tribune to make contact with all former and current Cullman County scholarship athletes.” 

Cullman High School graduate and former New England Patriot Wesley Britt has already signed on, and Burkett has reached out to Taylor Britt, Brontae Harris, Claire Jenkins and Lawson Schaffer. Coach Mark Britton, athletic director at Cullman High School, has agreed to help Burkett develop an initial list. He would like to hear from other active and retired area athletic department staffers as well. 

Burkett said, “Anyone else that wants to get involved is more than welcome to contact me at burkettmike07@hotmail.com.” 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com