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Jimmy Ready Receives Outstanding Philanthropist Award


NICEVILLE---In his quiet, unassuming way, James M. "Jimmy" Ready has demonstrated the ideals of philanthropy by creating opportunities for people to achieve an education, fostering vision research, and bringing music to his church through the purchase of a new organ. For these efforts and many others, Ready was honored Monday in Pensacola with the Outstanding Philanthropist Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, West Florida Chapter.

Although this "country smart" man from humble roots in Red Level, Alabama had no formal education, Ready, a retired Fort Walton Beach businessman and banker, knows the value of education in today's society. Over the past decade, Ready has contributed more than $100,000.00 to establish (eleven) permanent scholarships at Okaloosa-Walton Community College which nominated Ready for the philanthropy award.

Ready views his scholarship support as an investment in the future. "We all know there are people who have the desire and the potential to succeed but perhaps not the money and not the encouragement to attend college," said Ready. "These scholarships may open the doors and give opportunities for those who probably don't think college is an option for them."

Through his involvement with OWCC, Ready has established two Chris Ready Scholarships in memory of his late wife, a Ready Bank Scholarship,and two Clem Gatlin endowments recognizing student athletes and named in honor of his former neighbor. Most recently Ready and his wife, Marge, funded four Ready Family endowed nursing scholarships to support the college's new Registered Nursing program.

According to Marge Ready, her husband's support of education for the less fortunate stems from an event in the late s when Ready's educator grandfather was assassinated in his home because he wanted children to attend school rather than work in the cotton fields. "I am filled with such pride when I think of Jimmy's accomplishments for our community," said Marge Ready.

The community college has not been the only beneficiary of Ready's philanthropy. The man who came to the area in the s when it was known as Camp Walton owned and operated Jimmy's Men's Store, served years on the Fort Walton Beach city council, and later started and served as president of the community bank that bears his name.

Ready has made gifts to numerous organizations. The Cinco Baptist Church benefited when Ready purchased a new organ for the church. Although his own eyesight is failing from macular degeneration, Ready has funded research at Emory University in Atlanta. He also supports cancer research at several hospitals and the Elk's Childrens Burn Center. He's also a contributor to Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, American Heart Association, and countless other charitable causes.

In making the nomination, Dr. James R. Richburg, OWCC president, said, "Jimmy Ready stands as an example of how an individual has chosen to make a contribution that impacts lives forever. That's what his scholarships will do for every recipient. Our college is honored by his continued generosity, grateful for his friendship and our community is better for his philanthropy."

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