WRAL-TV Asst Program Director/Music Director & Air Personality Jim Kelly has spent many years and boundless energy supporting and promoting Duke Children’s Hospital over the years. Kelly emceed the Duke Children’s Gala this year but received a special surprise as well. The organization presented Kelly with one of the inaugural Duke Hero Awards at the event on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
The Gala included dinner and a Live Auction at the Washington Duke Inn in Durham. The night raised over $200,000 for the hospital and included surprise celebrity appearances from Carolina Panther player Greg Olsen and Duke Basketball player Grayson Allen. Both spoke about their experiences with Duke Children’s and helped to auction items from their organizations.
At the end of the evening Duke Children’s staffers Dr. Allan Kirk and Dr. Ann Reed made the surprise announcement they would be implementing a new award, The Duke Hero Award, which would be given each year to those who have been friends of the hospital and have gone above and beyond for the kids.
They presented the first award to Stanton Simmerson, a nurse at Duke Hospital who organizes the annual All-Star Ride for Life. The second award went to Kelly!
“! I’d already gotten my camera ready at that point because I think we all can attest to the amount of time Jim has invested into Duke Children’s both personally and professionally, but of course he was still surprised,” said WRAL-FM Promotions Coordinator Molly Donovan.
Kirk presented the award to Kelly.
“The Duke Children’s Hero Award is presented to individuals who have shown an exceptional commitment to furthering the Duke Children’s mission of providing the best medical care to every child,” explained Kirk. “The honoree must be an advocate, supporter, partner, and friend of Duke Children’s – someone who has devoted their own time and resources to help the patients, physicians, and staff at our hospital and clinics. Tonight we are pleased to honor two individuals with this inaugural award.”
Kirk continued, making the presentation to Kelly.
“We told you this evening would be full of surprises—and we now have a surprise for our second honoree, who does not know he is receiving this award,” said Kirk. “He is a longtime friend and advocate of Duke Children’s. He works tirelessly on behalf of Duke Children’s. He is not afraid to share his personal story because he knows that if one person is moved by his family’s experience to give to Duke Children’s, that is one more child saved, one more researcher who could make a world-changing discovery, or one more nurse or respiratory therapist given the best-possible tools to care for their patient. His family has inspired so many people to open their hearts for Duke Children’s, and we cannot thank him enough for opening his heart to us. We are proud and lucky to have him as part of our Duke Children’s family. Our final award tonight goes to our emcee Jim Kelly.”
Kelly’s family, including his wife, Tara, and their children, Payton and twins Olivia and Aiden, attended the event with him. Several staffers from WRAL-FM attended as well. Olivia and Aiden spent time in Duke Children’s Hospital after being born several months early back in the fall of 2004. And Aiden, who has cerebral palsy, still receives care at Duke when necessary.
Kelly has shared his personal story countless times as he enthusiastically participates in the MIX 101.5 Radiothon for Duke Children’s Hospital each year. And he participates in other events and supports Duke Children’s in many ways throughout the remainder of the year.
Thanks to WRAL-FM’s Molly Donovan for contributions to this capcom story & for these capcom photos.