For 15 years, the Dusty Elam Foundation has been “looking out for those without,” as per their slogan. Join the foundation during their largest fundraiser and event of the year – The Dusty Elam Foundation Benefit on Saturday, May 11 on the Elam Farm. The gate opens at 12 p.m.
The event began in memory of aspiring special education teacher Dusty Elam, who died in 2004.
“With the help of many family members and friends, the Dusty Elam Foundation was established to honor the commitment and life of Dusty Elam, who aspired to be a special education teacher, but tragically lost his life to a motorcycle accident. Dusty was passionate about helping others and committed to changing the lives of children in need. Our first official benefit was held in March of 2005, which marked the year anniversary of Dusty's death,” said Chris Elam.
The foundation continued to grow over the years due to the generosity of donors around the county.
The foundation also provides scholarships to graduating seniors.
“For the fifteen years, we have had the opportunity to assist various needs of families with special needs children, award academic scholarships for high school seniors, Christmas for struggling families, and many other philanthropic areas. Though we have grown into a two-day event which encompasses a day solely devoted to the special need children in our community and our regular event that is filled with games, food, auction, live music, etc., we remain committed with our same goal and mission since the inception of our foundation, looking out for those without,” Elam said.
The event itself, which attracted about 250 kids from around the county last year, has grown and expanded as well.
“Fifteen years ago, we never imagined we would be where we are today. Having the opportunity to help so many children and individuals in the Coffee County community in honor of Dusty is very humbling,” Elam added. “Our community makes our annual event very special. Our event is like none other.
“We are children-focused and have an array of activities for them, but also have many opportunities for adults as well,” he continued. “As we've expanded over the years, we continue to ensure that we seek out and value feedback from our community for improvement. Over the years, we have showcased many of our talented artist such as platinum country music artist and Tullahoma Native, Dustin Lynch, and Manchester's own, Sarah Pearson. The Dusty Elam Foundation's annual event is one of the only that the entire family can have fun.”
Musical guest this year will be ‘80s and ‘90s tribute band Rubiks Groove at 8 p.m. The auction will be at 2 p.m., followed by Mississippi Queen at 6 p.m. and the grand prize drawing for $5,000 at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets at John Roberts Toyota from Chris Elam or Peoples Bank from Melinda Ashburn. Tickets are $25 or five for $100. Entertainment only tickets, $15, will be available at the gate. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at www.dustyelamfoundation.com
Dusty’s Kids Day
The Friday before the big event, the Dusty Elam Foundation holds a day for the area’s special needs children. This event is free for participating families and kids and provides food and activities for children.
One of the highlights of the day is the morning of. The kids and families are escorted to the barn and area businesses cheer them on along the way.
“We like to have a big showing for Dusty's Kids Day on Friday, so we always encourage businesses that are on the path from the High School to the farm to be outside with signs, pom-poms, and messages on their marquee sign saying, ‘we support Dusty's Kids’ to let our kiddos know how much we support them,” Elam said.
The map of their route is shown in the photo. They begin at Coffee County Central High School at 9:30 a.m. and they are escorted to the Elam Farm, on Highway 53.