Chris Little named a 2011 Father of the Year
Chris Little, a Ballantyne resident and one of Charlotte’s 2011 Father of the Year Award recipients, has raised $106,000 for diabetes research – more than any participant raised since the event began.
Since 1999, the American Diabetes Association has teamed up with the National Father’s Day Council to host Father of the Year Award galas, where honorees are recognized for their commitment to their families, their careers and serving their communities. The program has generated more than $20 million to fund diabetes research, advocacy and education.
Little, the director of variable operations at Hendrick Automotive Group, raised enough money to be named the fourth-highest fundraiser in the country.
“I took an online approach to fundraising,” he said. “A lot of the previous dads did mailers and made phone calls, but I did a lot of fundraising through social media. I used the power of the Internet to connect with the contacts I have in the community and the business world.”
The fundraising was a four-month project for the dads, and they celebrated the results at the Father of the Year Gala, held June 17 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. For Little, one of the best parts of the evening was seeing the video introduction played at the awards ceremony featuring his wife, Kristen, and his daughters describing what makes him a great dad.
“It was the most rewarding thing,” Little said. “We raised a lot of money to fight a really terrible disease, and I got to hear my family saying these wonderful things about me as a father. It was a great night.”
Little’s daughters, 13-year-old Lindsay and 11-year-old Carly, describe his parenting style as “tough, but more than fair.” They say their dad preaches the value of having a positive outlook on life and surrounding yourself with people who will act as positive influences.
“I really stress attitude,” Little said. “It’s the only thing you are always in control of.”
Lindsay and Carly, who will both attend Community House Middle School in the fall, are avid competitive softball players – Lindsay with the Weddington-based Charlotte Terminators and Carly with the Lady Tigers in Kannapolis.
As a team coach, Little spends the weekends traveling as far as Atlanta and Myrtle Beach for games.
“I travel a lot during the weeks, so it’s great being able to spend that time together on the weekends,” he said. “When it comes to balancing work and home life, you’ve got to make it work.”
Little also is heavily involved with a number of Charlotte organizations dedicated to community service and outreach.
“I do a lot of charity work with HeartBright here in Charlotte,” Little said. “They do a lot of work in the community for people who can’t afford health care, and they have a free diabetes clinic run by Dr. Sathya Jyothinagaram, a previous winner of the Father of the Year.”
The HeartBright Foundation works to spread awareness of heart disease risk factors and healthy heart habits. The foundation runs a number of programs in Charlotte, including blood pressure screenings, educational seminars, exercise groups and a low-cost wellness center for the uninsured and underinsured.
“Working with HeartBright, you can see the work they do and the people they help,” Little said. “It’s about giving back to the community we live in. We all benefit from living here, and I think the world would be a much better place if we realized that and did what we could to give back.”
The five Fathers of the Year recognized at the 2011 gala are all south Charlotte residents. Little and Rick Puckett, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., live in Ballantyne; Bert Scott, president of U.S. commercial markets for the CIGNA Corporation, lives in Quail Hollow; and Michael Marsicano, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for the Carolinas, and Peter Browning, founder and managing director of Peter Browning & Associates, live in SouthPark.
Together, Charlotte’s 2011 Fathers of the Year raised $379,000 for the American Diabetes Association.
The Fathers of the Year are selected by the National Father’s Day Council, which recognizes fathers for their “outstanding commitment to their children and the values of fatherhood,” according to a news release.
“We’re proud of Chris and the other exceptional fathers who have so admirably balanced their personal lives with such successful careers and community service records,” Don Canterna, co-chair of the Charlotte Father’s Day Council, said.
The National Father’s Day Council is a group of volunteers who have gathered every year since 1931 to honor fathers and raise funds for charitable organizations. In the past 23 years, the group has raised more than $20 million to support the search for a cure for diabetes.
“Being a part of this was an eye-opening experience,” Little said. “We know that three out of every 10 people born in this decade will experience diabetes, and that number is out of control. It’s not a question of if we’ll find a cure; it’s a question of how long it will take. I’m proud to represent the people working toward that cure.”
The American Diabetes Association is dedicated to funding advocacy, education and research for finding a cure for diabetes, a disease that affects more than 25 million children and adults in the U.S.
For more information about the Fathers of the Year Award, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website at www.diabetes.org.