category: Campus News

Sophomore’s educational plan supports longtime objective

Tori Parker

(June 4, 2015) – Tori Parker came to Carson-Newman University sure of her purpose. A rising sophomore, she is fulfilling a sense of calling that began in middle school.

“I believe everyone has a purpose in life,” said Tori. “And I think mine is to help as many people as I can.”

Tori’s stirring resume of care and action includes providing much needed assistance to 22 East Tennessee women last year. She does not know just how many people have benefited from her fundraising, but 2014’s high-water mark of $3,100 pushed her cumulative total past $5,000.

Tori’s campaign generated Knoxville news media interest in recent months. That will happen when a college freshman pushes a wheelbarrow laden with cash and change into the University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institute with the sole condition that it’s used as a direct help to patients. With the help of her mom, Carrie, she had counted the money but chose against providing a check.

“I wanted to use a wheelbarrow so everyone would know it is a community effort,” asserted Tori. “It couldn’t happen if the community did not support it.”

Tori’s vision and initiative in raising money to help others at such a young age clearly shows her maturity and compassion,” said Renee Hawk, vice president of the UT Medical Center Cancer Institute. “The money Tori raised is being utilized to provide uninsured, East Tennessee women access to a free digital screening mammogram at a convenient location in their community or our mobile unit.”

Tori is especially grateful to her employer, Beef Jerky Outlets, for allowing her to place collection jars in its Gatlinburg, Kodak, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville stores. While she regularly contributes to the cause, she is quick to point out that the effort’s success is because of the community members and tourists who support the cause.

Tori’s campaign to fight cancer began as one person simply trying to help another. She was in the seventh grade when Carrie told her about Dwayne Duckworth, a cancer patient she had met while working as hospital administrative staffer. Tori decided pretty quickly she wanted to do something to help, so she asked people, neighbors mostly, for contributions. She raised $80.

Although she only met him once before he lost his cancer battle, Dwayne inspired Tori to keep up the good work. It’s grown steadily over the last six years, especially with the strong support of the outlet stores, where she has worked since she was 16.

She hopes an October 21 event at the Pigeon Forge Beef Jerky Outlet will generate the largest donation to date. Cancer Institute staffers will support the fall fundraiser and help create awareness and raise interest. Like the provision of mammograms, Tori will let Institute administrators decide how funds are used best.

When she returns to campus in the fall, Tori will continue her pursuit of a business major and religion minor with plans to be an entrepreneur who is interested and invested in others. While it may or may not be selling dried foods, she already knows the reason.

“I just want to be able to help people in any way I can, whether that is through a small business or as part of a large corporation. As long as I am putting smiles on people’s faces and helping them achieve their goals, I will be happy.”

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