Cunningham turns 82
By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – Dr. Earl Cunningham, a retired veteran and longtime Montevallo resident, celebrated his 82nd birthday Oct. 26 at the Parnell Memorial Library in Montevallo, but he wasn’t just celebrating his birthday. He was also celebrating the 21 scholarships he’s given to incoming college students over the last decade.
As part of the Earl Cunningham Outreach and Education Scholarship Fund, Cunningham and various donors have been responsible for awarding high school seniors from Shelby, Bibb and Chilton counties $500 scholarships for the last eight years. Next year, Cunningham said he hopes to provide $1,000 scholarships.
Former Montevallo mayor Ben McCrory spoke on behalf of the foundation and said he’s had more opportunities than the average person to see the foundation’s work.
“If you see the children, where they were and where they’ve been, ladies and gentleman you wouldn’t believe it,” McCrory said at the Oct. 26 birthday celebration.
Tom Walker, the foundation’s current president and CEO of American Village, also spoke about the foundation and its effect on the students it serves, saying the foundation has touched the lives of many who may never know their beneficiary.
“It would be easy if I were 82 years old to say, ‘I don’t have any more dreams.’ But this man has more dreams,” Walker said of Cunningham. “You are a blessing and we honor you on this special birthday.”
Cunningham, who has received two bronze stars for his service in Korea and Vietnam and has earned six college degrees over his lifetime, said he runs on the philosophy, “If you ever have anything, pass it on to others.”
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Cunningham said. “Montevallo is good, Shelby County is good, (and) I see great things with the foundation.”
Anyone interested in donating to the scholarship fund should mail donations to the Earl Cunningham Outreach and Education Scholarship Fund, Inc., at P.O. Box 226, Montevallo, AL 35115.