Brothers Wade and Jimmy Creekmore will be honored as the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi’s Star of Hope at their 20th annual Crystal Ball. This black-tie gala has been voted as the number one charitable event in Mississippi and is attended by 1,200 people.
The Creekmores started in their family’s small independent rural telephone company in the late 1950s and grew it into C Spire, the nation’s largest privately held wireless company.
The Creekmores entered wireless communication in 1988 – less than five years after the FCC began awarding licenses. Together they co-founded Cellular South - now known as C Spire - with nine employees and three wireless towers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Mississippi-based diversified telecommunications and technology services company has grown to over 1,800 employees and 1 million customers.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the Creekmores established the C Spire Foundation that now provides 34 scholarships at Mississippi’s eight public universities and numerous grants primarily related to STEM education. The Creekmores also support numerous community and charitable causes, including the Palmer Home for Children, the Museum of Mississippi History, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the UMMC Children’s Hospital and Base Camp Coding Academy.
In 2019, C Spire developed and launched the new C Spire Software Development Pathway program as a way for Mississippi high school students to earn an Associate Degree of Applied Science along with a certification in computer science. Once complete, after one year at a Mississippi community college, the students have very little college debt and are qualified to be hired as a junior software developer with starting salaries upwards of $50,000 per year.
In addition, Wade established the Southwest Mississippi Chess Foundation to create a free chess program for Franklin County public school students, which has been featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program.
As part of its mission to move Mississippi forward, C Spire continues to invest heavily in all-fiber broadband infrastructure across the state, including the Delta and DeSoto County where consumers benefit from ultra-fast internet access, awarding-winner live streaming TV, premium digital home phone service and businesses receive a suite of world-class managed voice and data products and services.
Previous recipients of the Star of Hope award include Morgan Freeman, Archie and Olivia Manning, Sen. Thad Cochran, actress Sela Ward, journalist Jesse J. Holland, singer-songwriter Marty Stuart and others who give hope to their fellow Mississippians.
Four local Community Stars will also be honored at the annual fundraiser including man, woman, business and nonprofit of the year. Proceeds from the event help the Community Foundation aid over 800 charitable programs in Northwest Mississippi.
“The theme for the milestone 20th annual gala is ‘We are putting on a Modern Ritz: A Perspective on the Past and a Foundation for the Future,’” said Michael and Elizabeth Bellipanni, Co-Chairs of the event. “This year will include fabulous silent and one-of-a-kind live auction items like dinner with Morgan Freeman, tickets to iHeart Radio’s Music Festival in Las Vegas, a package trip to the Today Show, a week-long vacation at a Colorado ski lodge and much more! The Community Foundation is an amazing organization that enhances the quality of life in Northwest Mississippi, and we are proud to be part of this event.”
Tickets for the Jan. 18, 2020 event at the Arena in Southaven are $150 per person and can be purchased at www.cfnm.org or by check to the Community Foundation, 315 Losher St., Hernando, MS 38632 or by calling 662-449-5002.
The Community Foundation manages 240 donor-established funds and has distributed $25 million to support more than 800 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation. Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 charitable organization. The Foundation serves Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Leflore, Marshall, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, and Tunica counties. A board of 19 volunteer civic leaders governs the Community Foundation. Learn more about the Community Foundation at www.cfnm.org or call 662-449-5002.