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Cornelius News

Friendship lives on

June 14. By Dave Yochum. When Gail Williams remarried almost exactly a year ago, she had no idea her new husband, Rich Carroll, would pass away one year later.

The newlyweds were outgoing and popular members of the Lake Norman Happy Hour group. While Rich, a gregarious Irish retiree, worked part-time at area golf clubs, Gail is the long-time Sales Director of Business Today and Cornelius Today. She helped blaze the trail for women in both the Atlanta and Charlotte advertising communities. She is a Mecklenburg Times 50 Most Influential Women award winner as well as a Top Women in Business award winner from Business Today.

“Rich was larger than life. He always liked to sit at  the bar instead of a table,  so we could meet new people. He was a generous man who loved music, dancing and being Irish,” Gail said.

But after a seven-month battle with cancer, Rich passed away May 27 at the age of 79. Suffice it to say caregiving during Rich’s last few months was challenging, not to mention challenges around blended families and all that happens with profound grief.


And then something very sweet happened.

My Aloha owner Rob Bennett, a long-time supporter of Big Day at the Lake—just like Gail—emailed the organizers of BDATL with a message yesterday that came from deep within his soul.

“As you know I have such a love for Gail, I wanted to add value to Gail, and all the efforts as a carekeeper which sometimes goes overlooked, it is the hardest job, and the amount of love and strength that is derived from these events is absolutely the most amazing love of all,” Rob said.

He is donating $1,000 to the Big Day Celebrity Bartender event tonight, on behalf of Gail and Richard.

“Tears of joy to celebrate Richard, awesome guy…and Gail, and her courage, and her next chapter, knowing she has so much more to give others,” said Bennett, owner of Aloha Paddlesports and Charlotte Cycleboats.

The two will be matched up as Celebrity Bartenders on the patio bar at Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails from 5:30 to 6:15 pm. The event runs until 9:45 pm.

The Celebrity Bartenders event, which is part of Big Day at the Lake, benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas. Big Day at the Lake is July 21 this year.

Volunteer Boat Hosts will take hundreds of at-risk children out on Lake Norman for a full day of fun, which is one of its three primary goals. The other two are to recruit Bigs (AKA mentors) and raise money for a worthy organization.

The goal this year is $110,000 for BBBS. Right now the organization has pledges and checks for $103,000, prior to tonight’s event at Alton’s

Other Celebrity Bartenders include County Commissioners Pat Cotham and Jim Puckett; mayors John Aneralla (Huntersville), Rusty Knox (Davidson) and Woody Washam (Cornelius); Mick Mixon, the voice of the Panthers; Susan Tillis, founder of Red White & Bundled; and TV news personalities Tonya Rivens and Joe Bruno.

To register as a Boat Host, please visit www.bigdayatthelake.com