By Kathleen Layton, Editor-in-Chief
“Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.” These lines from the Dr. Seuss childhood classic, The Sneetches, were read by Young Harris College President Cathy Cox for the second annual CEO Battle for the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy.
Cox and six other CEOs competed from Jan. 13 to Feb. 7 for the title of “Favorite Reader.” The six other executives that participated included, Paul Wood, CEO for Georgia EMC, William Griffin, CEO for Rosser International, Michael Russell, CEO of H.J. Russell, Ruth Knox, president of Wesleyan College, Raymond King, CEO for the Atlanta Zoo and William Kimble, managing partner of KPMG in Atlanta.
Each CEO participated in a filmed-reading to a class of students. Cox read to a class of Pre-K students at Towns County, which is a local school system in Hiawassee. Each reading was edited into a film clip for voters to watch and vote on through the Ferst Foundation’s website. By visiting the Ferst Foundation’s webpage, voters were able to view the clips and pick the CEO reader of their choice. The “Favorite Reader” and winner of the contest will be announced on Feb. 14.
Throughout the competition, votes for each CEO could be cast daily, with the initial vote free of charge. Each additional vote cost $3 each. This donation is equivalent to the cost of one book, which would go to a child signed up in the Ferst Foundation’s reading program.
The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy’s website says the goal of the organization is to “provide books for local communities to prepare all Georgia preschool children for reading and learning success.”
This foundation touches on a cause that Cox worked to improve during her 2006 campaign for Georgia Governor, with childhood literacy being “a major part of my platform,” Cox said.
Cox explained that although this issue seems obvious and easy to fix, improving literacy rates among children does “not [yield] immediate results. So, this makes it a short coming in policy,” Cox said.
Cox’s political background not only sparked her interest in this cause, but it led Cox to meet Robin Ferst, the president and founder of the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy.
“I met Robin years ago at a political fundraiser. We hit it off as friends. She has a fun personality, and I loved what she was doing from the get-go,” Cox said.
This set the stage for Cox’s role in the CEO Battle.
“Reading is one of these things that makes a child’s life come together. Why not invest in something to help a child succeed,” Cox said in regards to why she competed in the 2011 CEO Battle.
“At different points, I was in the top three,” Cox said.
Although Cox would like to be voted “Favorite Reader,” her hope is that this competition will “win some recognition” so that more books can go into the hands of children.
Cox encouraged YHC students to get involved by saying, “Anything that students can do to read [to a child] will have a lasting impact on that child’s life.”