A gift of more than $40,000 of corporate and individual donations from a local hospital will enable Georgia Southern University to fund future scholarships for nursing students in memory of five young women killed in a tragic car accident in April.
Tuesday, East Georgia Regional Medical Center gifted the university with $41,670 for the university's School of Nursing Students' Memorial Fund, established in memory of the five nursing students who lost their lives in a vehicle crash on Interstate 16 near Savannah on April 22.
The students were commuting to Savannah for their last day of clinical training of the school year when the crash occurred, which began when a tractor-trailer ran into traffic that was stopped while emergency crews were working to clear the road of an earlier collision. The victims who died were Emily Clark, of Powder Springs; Morgan Bass, of Leesburg; Abbie Deloach, of Savannah; Catherine (McKay) Pittman, of Alpharetta; and Caitlyn Baggett, of Millen.
Of the sum donated, $25,000 was a corporate gift from the hospital, and the remaining $16,670 was raised through the generosity of individuals within the hospital's leaders, board of trustees, physicians and employees, according to a release from Jennifer Wise, communications director with GSU's Office of Marketing and Communications.
Since the tragedy, supporters from the local community and across the country have donated more than $50,000 in additional gifts to the fund, she said. Georgia Southern has now raised more than $90,000 toward its goal of $125,000 to enable the university to distribute five $1,000 scholarships each year to students in the School of Nursing.
"The Georgia Southern family extends beyond our campus as shown by this generous gift from the leadership, physicians and employees of East Georgia Regional Medical Center," GSU's Interim President Dr. Jean E. Bartels said in a release. "The support we have received from the medical community and friends of the university following the tragedy will enable us to perpetually remember these remarkable young ladies while making a difference in the lives of students dedicated to caring for others for generations to come."
Bob Bigley, CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center, led the effort to celebrate the lives of the nursing students through the gift to the scholarship fund.
"The loss of life is tragic. Certainly the loss of five nursing students and the injury of two others impacted all of us in the medical community," he said in the release. "We all thought long and hard on how to recognize these individuals and the contributions they were going to make in caring for others. After discussions with the physicians, Board of Trustees and employees, we all agreed that providing a lasting tribute to their chosen profession was the most appropriate way to honor them, their profession and those that will follow."
Individuals interested in helping to reach the $125,000 goal through a contribution to the scholarship fund are encouraged to visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/nursing.