Bruce Pearl helps raise $4,000 for United Way at Royal Oaks event

United Way bridges the gap for Blount County residents in the same way a teacher bridges the gap for a student, University of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said recently.

The head of UT’s men’s basketball program spoke Oct. 15 at United Way’s “Evening with Bruce Pearl,” presented by Royal Oaks Events Facility.

The event drew in more than 100 people and raised more than $4,000 for the organization. Pearl delivered a simple message to the crowd: United Way bridges the gaps in Blount County.

“I coach the basketball team because I try to make a difference in young people’s lives,” Pearl said. “And the thing that teachers do on any level is... try to bridge that gap between when a young person is leaving high school and then going to college and trying to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

“The folks that you all are helping through the United Way, they also need that bridge... We’re talking about paying the utility bill. We’re talking about feeding a family. We’re talking about making that month’s rent. We’re talking about shelter and food,” Pearl added. “What would Blount County be without the United Way?”

For Pearl, speaking on behalf of United Way was a personal decision.

“Folks thank me for coming out to help support the United Way, and I ask that you please don’t thank me,” Pearl said. “I pray every day. I ask God to forgive me for the things that I failed him every day, and so if I can go out there and talk on behalf of United Way, and maybe help us raise a little bit more money, that’s maybe one of the things that God appreciates.”

Pearl also discussed the future of UT’s men’s basketball program and brought a touch of humor to the crowd when he talked about how he will lose four of his senior basketball players at the end of the upcoming season.

“It’s a scary thing when my future and my basketball program depends upon the decision of a 15-year-old kid,” Pearl joked.

This was the first United Way of Blount County event in which Pearl has participated.

Royal Oaks Event Facility donated the space, all food, and staff for the event.

United Way of Blount County supports programs that address health, education, and self-sufficiency. For more information or to give to United Way, visit www.liveunitedblount.org or call 865-982-2251.

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