Ray Tanner has received plenty of support from the Columbia community since moving to the area in 1996. The South Carolina baseball coach continues to do his best to return the favor.
The Ray Tanner Foundation hosts its sixth annual benefit and auction next Saturday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at the Township Auditorium. The ticket cost is $100 per person or $1,000 for a sponsor’s table of eight.
“I really believe in the community, and I believe here at the university, regardless of what position you may be in, whether you’re a coach or a professor or a dean, you’ve very much a part of this community,” Tanner said. “My wife and I have always been active in the community.”
Tanner’s wife, Karen, helped convince him a little over six years ago that he needed to reach out in a larger way. Since that time the foundation has raised money for a variety of organizations and agencies that assist the less fortunate, including many with a focus on children’s issues.
Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, The Oliver Gospel Mission, Families Helping Families, The Cooperative Ministry, Palmetto Place Children’s Emergency Shelter, New Beginning Family Services, The Nurturing Center, and Parenting Partners all have received assistance over the years.
Tanner is pleased that his name can help generate both awareness and donations.
“My name is on it, but it only exists because of many faithful Gamecock fans and the people that live here in the community, regardless of their school affiliation. It all goes to the greater good,” he said. “All the money can go back out. There’s no office, there’s no overhead. Every dollar that we make after expenses goes back to someone that can certainly use the money and make their lives better.”
Tanner’s spirit of generosity has been evident since his return from the College World Series in Omaha last June. Kristi Davis, the baseball office’s administrative assistant, said the coach has been in high demand after leading the Gamecocks to the national championship. He has made approximately 120 public appearances, about half of which involved charitable or fundraising events.
Tanner likes how his passion for both USC baseball and the community at large has made believers of others as well. He estimates that 40 former players will attend the benefit and auction.
“That’s just a great testament to the kind of people they are as well,” he said.
One of Tanner’s larger remaining goals is to build a Miracle Field in Columbia, a national initiative that allows children with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. He continues to work toward raising the funds to make that possible.
But his more immediate goal is to make this coming event the biggest one yet. The foundation, which expects to hand out several significant awards that night, hopes to raise between $30,000 and $35,000.
Tanner wants to keep giving back.
“We try to do things where we can make an immediate impact,” he said.