By Morgan Bryce

Dr. William Whatley III of Opelika’s Family Medicine Associates will be the recognized physician at the 8th annual “Black Tie Legacy Gala” Feb. 1 at the Auburn-Opelika Marriott at Grand National.
Members of the J.W. Darden Foundation, Inc. help organize this event each year, which includes a reception, dinner and awards ceremony to honor Whatley’s contributions and recognize this year’s scholarship recipients.
More than $27,000 in scholarships have been gifted to students in medical school, including aspiring doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
Named after Opelika’s first black physician Dr. J.W. Darden and his wife Maude, the foundation carries on his legacy through the Darden Wellness Center, which provides free health screenings and access to other medical resources. Events like the gala help sustain those efforts, scholarship provision and the necessary funding for the upkeep of Darden’s historical home at 1323 Auburn St.
2013 – Dr. Wendell Gaillard and the late Dr. William Lazenby
2014 – Mrs. Lillie Hall, BSN, RN and Dr. James P. Himmelwright
2015 – the late Dr. Howard Kennedy and Dr. Robert C. Patton
2016 – Dr. William Stephen Russell
2017 – Dr. William Garrett
2018 – Dr. Michael Williams.
Tickets cost $100 per person. Sponsorships are also available for this event:
• Gold – $3,000
• Silver – $2,000
• Bronze – $1,000
For more information or to purchase tickets, call foundation members Peggy Hansen at 334-663-1833 The venue is located at 3700 Robert Trent Jones Trail in Opelika.