The 10th annual J.W. Darden Foundation Black Tie Legacy Gala was held last Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort & Spa at Grand National. Members of the J.W. Darden Foundation Inc. organized this event and it included a reception, dinner and awards ceremony to honor contributions to the community made by Dr. Richard M. Freeman (seen on right in first photo). Freeman, a local pediatrician and aviation medical examiner, is also a U.S. Navy veteran and has been presenting pediatric lectures to Auburn students at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) since 2016.
Scholarship recipients were also recognized during the event. More than $30,000 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. in Opelika.
PHOTOS BY SAM DICHIARA / THE OBSERVER