Last November, I was fortunate to attend the unveiling and dedication of “Frank’s Table” – a beautiful sculpture honoring Birmingham’s legendary chef and restaurateur Frank Stitt at the 24th Street entrance of The Rotary Trail.
The Stitt installation event was part of the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Legacy of Leadership campaign which honors leaders and families in our community, while raising funds for MS research and services that support people living with MS.
Established in 1997, this public art/fundraising campaign is a Birmingham original. In total -19 pieces of art have been commissioned and donated over the years.
“More than twenty years ago, we had a group of our board trustees and community leaders, who came together and said, we’d really like to start a fundraising campaign to support the MS Society – but it cannot be another dinner or gala style event,” said Andy Bell, President of MS Society of the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter.
In lieu of a party they took a different path. They decided to recognize honorees and raise funds for MS by commissioning or purchasing a piece art, and placing it in public spaces such as the Birmingham Museum of Art, Regions Field, Birmingham-Southern College and the McWane Science Center.
“It is a win-win-win,” stated Bell. “A win for the Society, enabling us to raise significant money for research. A win for the honoree and their families because they have a permanent statue or piece of art recognizing them. Thirdly, a win for the city of Birmingham.”
Serving more than 8000 people directly affected by MS, the Legacy of Leadership campaign honoring Frank Stitt raised $305,000 last year and approximately more than $5 million over the past two decades.
Bell told us the Society is making significant progress in the fight against MS. “In my 12 years we have made remarkable progress. To put it in a meaningful way, when I joined the organization we had six FDA approved medications. We now have 20 disease modifying therapies.”.
The new therapies also address pediatric MS and an aggressive form of MS.
According to Bell, the next art installation honors Fairfax & Drayton Nabers. It will be unveiled this fall and it is a statue in memory of Dr. John Whitaker, a renown UAB MS researcher. The artist producing the piece is Caleb O’Connor.
Where is the Art?
Looking for the works of art throughout Birmingham? Here are the Honorees – Titles – Locations – Artists
- John Harbert – John Harbert – Regions-Harbert Plaza – Brad Morton
- Fred Sington – Winged Victory – The Financial Center – Brad Morton
- Joseph Bruno – Prime Matter -McWane Center – Eric Orr
- Thomas Martin – A Legacy in His Own Time -Alabama Power Company – Frank Fleming
- Elton Stephens – Four Men- Concord Center – Stephan Balkenhol
- Beeson Family – Wedgewood Mantle – Birmingham Museum of Art – Wedgewood
- Benjamin Russell – Beacon of Hope – Children’s of Alabama (Children’s Harbor) – Rick McCrary
- Ireland Family -Faith and Hope – Birmingham Zoo – Frank Fleming
- Robert Hugh Daniel – Altruistic Visionary- Daniel Building – Cordray Parker
- William M. Spencer Family- Vietnamese Incense Burner Birmingham Museum of Art – Le Dynasty Era
- Thomas N. Carruthers – Silver Teapot – Birmingham Museum of Art – Jacob Hurd
- Hall Thompson – Eagle – The Harbert Center – Mike Curtis
- Miller Gorrie – Sentiment Matrix – UAB Civitan Center – Sara Armstrong
- Anne and Neal Berte – Outdoor Classroom- Birmingham-Southern College – John Stewart Jackson
- Don Logan – Willie Mays -Regions Field – Caleb O’Connor
- Lee Styslinger Jr. – Fiber – Birmingham Museum of Art – Darius Hill
- Charles Collat – Steps to Success -UAB Collat School of Business – Anna Skibaska
- Frank Stitt – Frank’s Table- The Rotary Trail – Greg Fitzpatrick
In the coming months, look for news about the Fairfax and Drayton Nabors installation at UAB. Meanwhile, check out the critical work being done by Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.