February 6, 2019
2015 Marion Medallion
Four individuals were recognized for their significant contributions and service to the people of the Pee Dee area at the 2015 Marion Medallion awards ceremony on Friday, Feb. 27 at the FMU Performing Arts Center.
Medallions were presented to John and Vicki Kirby of Latta; and the founders of Camp RAE, Paige Alexander and Deana Huggins Strickland of Florence.
The Kirbys are lifelong educators – he’s the superintendent for Dillon County District 3 – who have given generously to local universities and schools for decades so that others have the opportunity for an education. Alexander and Strickland have improved the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities by providing comprehensive education and rehabilitation through Camp RAE.
The Marion Medallion is a four-year-old award, sponsored and presented jointly by Francis Marion University and the Morning News of Florence. Executives of the two institutions collaborate in the selection of the recipients. It was first awarded in 2012. It is intended to be awarded in perpetuity.
The medallions are awarded on or about Feb. 27—Francis Marion Day — every year. The medallion is, of course, named for General Francis Marion, the revolutionary war leader who led Patriot forces in the Pee Dee Region, and who is the namesake of FMU.
The medallion stems from a 2009 report on the challenges faced by the communities along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina, including the Pee Dee. A recommendation in that report suggested that major entities in the area find ways to celebrate the good works of the people of the region.
The criterion for identifying and selecting medallion recipients is deliberately broad. Eligible recipients must have contributed in a significant manner to the well-being of the citizens in one or more of the counties in the Pee Dee.
Previous recipients include Kathy Baxley, executive director of the Darlington Free Medical Clinic and Henry Johnson and Hayward King, chief executives of the Lake City-based W. Lee Flowers Company (2012); former Florence Police Chief Ralph Porter, executive director and founder of CHOiCES Charter School and Bill and Olive Timberlake of Hartsville (2013); and Florence pastors Henry Badie Jr. of Pentecostal Temple Church of God in Christ and Clyde Odom of King of Kings Church in Florence and Henry Brunson of Latta, founder of Cooks for Christ (2014).
About the Medallion
The medallion award is an actual medallion. It is a gold-plated bronze piece that weighs 2.5 pounds and is 6 inches in diameter. Francis Marion’s likeness is on one side. The recipient’s name is engraved on the reserve side.
About the 2015 recipients:
Alexander and Strickland — Camp RAE was born out of a desire for Strickland’s disabled daughter Allie, to attend summer camp. Six years ago Allie, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, attended a summer camp for children with disabilities in Charleston. There wasn’t a camp like it anywhere in the Pee Dee. When Strickland called Alexander with the idea, the camp was soon born. Camp RAE is a summer program to provide therapy and educational interaction for non-mobile special needs children. It helps replace programs provided for them during the school months and has been in operation since the spring of 2009. Both women are graduates of Francis Marion University.
Dr. John and Vicki Kirby – Dr. Kirby has held the position of superintendent of the Latta School District since 1990. Vicki Kirby is a veteran educator in that same school system. The Kirbys have established scholarships at FMU, Florence-Darlington Technical College and Northeastern Technical College and remained actively involved in Latta Rotary Club’s Happy Feet Program, which provides new shoes for students who might not otherwise have any at the start of a new school year. The Kirbys both graduated from Francis Marion University.