By Tina Alvey
Bethany McFerrin is a young woman with a plan.
The Greenbrier East High School grad is taking general studies classes at New River Community and Technical College’s Lewisburg campus with an eye toward eventually enrolling in the journalism program at Marshall University.
And like any other 19-year-old college student, she’s looking forward to moving out of her parents’ home and finding a measure of independence as she pursues higher education.
As a person with the neurological disorder cerebral palsy, McFerrin is used to finding a way around life’s obstacles and turning them into opportunities.
When a group of fellow New River students — members of the Beta Zeta Delta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honorary society — discovered that McFerrin would need a service dog to make her dream of obtaining a college degree possible, they were inspired to help.
PTK President Joanna Post explained her connection with McFerrin, a freshman who maintains a 3.5 grade point average at New River.
“She is amazing despite the obstacles she faces due to cerebral palsy,” Post said. “Bethany is the student everyone knows and speaks with as they pass her in the hallway.”
She added, “There are so many things we take for granted each day that Bethany has to struggle with, but she does it with a smile. If we can help her in any way, it’s great to have that opportunity.”
Primarily relying on the proceeds from a raffle now under way, PTK is seeking to raise the $5,000 McFerrin needs to purchase Koby, a trained service dog from Wagmor Service Dogs in Ohio.
Although she has yet to meet Koby face-to-face, McFerrin said she is enjoying looking at him on Facebook.
The dog is being trained to meet his prospective master’s specific needs.
“He’ll pick up stuff for me (and) get me a blanket if I’m cold,” McFerrin explained, noting Koby is already trained in “basic obedience stuff.”
More than $2,200 in cash and prizes have already been donated for the May 10 raffle, including a grand prize of an Apple iPad valued at $400, which was donated by Phi Theta Kappa members.
Other prizes include a round of golf donated by The Greenbrier, a $150 VISA gift card, a Bluetooth headset, tickets for a show at Greenbrier Valley Theatre, photo sittings, jewelry, personal accessories, cosmetics and gift certificates from a variety of area merchants. A complete list of raffle items can be found online at ptkraffle.org.
“People from everywhere have really stepped up,” Post said. “There’s a passion here in the Greenbrier Valley for helping each other. We take a lot of pride in taking care of our own.”
The raffle drawing is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 10 at the Greenbrier Valley campus in Lewisburg, after which the prize winners will be notified. A list of winners will also be posted on the Phi Theta Kappa website.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or three for $10. Tickets are available at the Greenbrier Valley campus from Joanna Post, 304-228-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org; at the Nicholas County campus in Summersville from Crystal DeBoard, 304-228-7704, email@example.com; and at the Beckley campus from Jennifer Smith at 304-761-9668, Jennifer_Lynette8252@hotmail.com.
More information can also be obtained from the chapter sponsor, Dr. Lucie Refsland, firstname.lastname@example.org, or student program adviser Donna Polk, email@example.com.
All donations are tax-deductible.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org