Suzanne Johnson Endowment raises $165K for HCCF

First State Bank of Burnet President Cary Johnson presents the Hill Country Community Foundation with a $165,000 check -- the proceeds from the most recent Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraiser. Back row from left are David Bennett, Kyle Stripling, Danny Floyd, Phillip Thurman, Calvin Boyd, and TJ Reed. Front row are Earline Zimmerman, Ken Graham, Cary Johnson, Keith McBurnett and Sallye Long.

By Savanna Gregg

Burnet Bulletin

The Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraiser always brings in a substantial amount of money for the Hill Country Community Foundation (HCCF) and this year was no exception.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, First State Bank of Burnet President Cary Johnson presented HCCF with a check for $165,000 in proceeds from the sixth annual Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment Fundraiser, held this past September in Lampasas.

The Hill Country Community Foundation has been a part of the community since 1982. It provides assistance and support to students entering college by gifting considerable scholarships every year. The foundation also supports charitable and health programs, impacting the community for almost 40 years.

Johnson described the Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment as “under the umbrella” of the Hill Country Community Foundation, this metaphor being depicted in the HCCF logo. The supportive relationship between the two is evident in the effect they have on the community.

The Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment was created through the HCCF and co-founded by Johnson and his family — daughters Jessica Lindsey and Cari Ann Whitehead and son Jack Johnson — in memory of Johnson's wife, Suzanne, who passed away in 2011 after a three-year battle with brain cancer. This represents an effort to continue Suzanne's legacy of community service and philanthropic values.

The endowment, which began as a one-time memorial, has blossomed into an annual fundraiser that has raised $895,000, and $61,000 in scholarships have been awarded to Burnet High School students in the past six years it has been a part of the community.

“The generosity of the community – the donors, the volunteers who work the events, the First State Bank employees, and the people who have donated auction items – is overwhelming,” Johnson said.

Johnson said they plan to have a grande finale in 2018 and he has an amazing goal in mind — and with the help of the community, they will be able to reach it, and maybe surpass it.

“Judging by the past success, we are hoping to reach a $1,000,000 permanent endowment next year,” Johnson said.

Though the endowment fundraisers will come to an end, as all good things must, Johnson takes heart in the fact that the endowment itself is perpetual.

The Johnson family and philanthropic population of the Hill Country have helped the Suzanne Johnson Scholarship Endowment make a lasting impact on the community itself and its students for generations to come.

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