Coaching against new foes
Moore County native Curtis Frye has coached Olympic gold medalists and, throughout his 17-year career leading the University of South Carolina’s track and field program, more than 60 NCAA national champions.
At age 61, Frye is not slowing down in those pursuits any time soon. A Type-2 diabetic who was diagnosed in his thirties, Frye’s adding a new hurdle and taking it on with the same coaching drive which has guided Gamecock and American track stars.
“Diabetes runs deep in my family,” said Frye. “My father died at age 58 from problems with diabetes, including kidney failure, and my brother was an amputee (from diabetes) and died at 58 years old.”
With lots of help from family and friends, Frye started The Frye Foundation and a celebrity golf tournament in Moore County, which will continue with the 3rd annual event on Sunday and Monday, May 19-20, at The National Golf Club in Pinehurst.
Looking to do more and raise more donations to fight what Frye passionately calls “a war” on diabetes and mental illness, most notably to help those who are undiagnosed or go misdiagnosed, his foundation is debuting “An Affair to Remember,” a black tie gala at the Dennis Wicker Civic Center the night of Saturday, May 18.
In the early stages of making the gala a celebrity event as well, Frye called good friend Marion Jones.
Frye, while an assistant coach at UNC-Chapel Hill, recruited then-Marion Toler. Toler became a basketball and track star as a Tar Heel, but Frye took the job at South Carolina and never coached her. The two have nevertheless remained close.
When Frye called Jones about the gala, it was more to see if she could help pass the word or nominate another star athlete.
“She said, ‘Coach, you know I love you,’” Frye said. “Then she said, ‘I’ll do anything you want me to do. Where? and when?’”
So, “An Affair to Remember” Featuring Marion Jones will include dinner, gospel music, comedians, speakers and a silent auction from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at the Civic Center.
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The gala is only part of The Frye Foundation’s big weekend. On Saturday morning, Frye’s Chapel Church in Vass will host the Frye Foundation’s 5K Run/Walk Challenge to Benefit Diabetes and Mental Illness. The run/walk will have registration starting at 7:30 a.m. and the race starting at 8:30 p.m. Anyone interested can contact Wilma Frye at email@example.com or Jason Jackamonis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 3rd Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament to Benefit Diabetes and Mental Illness will be Sunday and Monday at The National Golf Club. Golfers can register at www.thefryefoundation.org or by email to email@example.com.
The two days of golf at The National will be $200 a person. A pairing party dinner on Sunday evening will be $100. A spot at “An Affair to Remember” on Saturday night is $40.
Anyone interested in the gala can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Frye, who is a Union Pines alum, then coached at East Carolina and Douglas Byrd in the early years of his career, wants the impact of his foundation to benefit North and South Carolina. He wants there to be immediate and long-term benefits to his “war.”
Frye spoke at events at B.T. Bullock and J.R. Ingram elementary schools in Sanford earlier this month. Part of the foundation’s proceeds are going to help kids fighting Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, by creating scholarships for kids to go to camps.
Purchasing insulin pumps and other necessary supplies for underprivileged people, funding scholarships for nurses and donating to research organizations are all part of the foundation.
Diagnosing diabetes as early as possible, whether Type 1 or Type 2, is critical since diabetics who go untreated, or even completely unaware, run high risks of many additional diseases and complications such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, nerve damage and eye, mouth and ear problems.
While looking forward to the gala, “we’re not in this for an event, even though it’s going to be a really great night. We’re in this for a war,” said Frye.
East Carolina football coach Ruffin McNeill, former UNC and NBA player Al Wood, and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Allen Johnson and Otis Harris Jr. are but a few of the celebrity athletes Frye has coming in for all or some of the weekend’s events.
The auction will feature a wide array of Carolina-based memorabilia, photos and tickets.
The primary goal though, Frye says, is remembering what, and who, he’s fighting for.
“We have to invest the most in our communities,” he said, “for the people affected right here at home. Charity begins at home.”