Dr. Jim and Peggie Morrow are passing the Forsyth BYOT Benefit to the Forsyth County Education Foundation after nine years of raising funds for kids and families without access to technology at home.
Officials with Forsyth County Schools recognized the couple and all the work they have put into Forsyth BYOT over the years during the latest board of education meeting before announcing the change.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden said that when he was hired by the school system in 2014, the first event he went to in Forsyth was a BYOT Benefit golf tournament fundraiser.
“And wow, we have really made a lot of progress since then,” he said. “The mission that Jim and Peggie started on at that time was to make sure that all of our students had devices and connectivity. They recognized a need in our community.”
The poverty rate in Forsyth County is lower than others, with about 15% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Bearden pointed out, however, that this still accounts for more than 7,000 children.
Jim and Peggie saw that need in the community and decided nine years ago to try to help. In those years, they have exceeded even their own expectations.
They began the BYOT Benefit by hosting a golf tournament to try raise money for the kids.
“The first check was in the neighborhood of $30,000,” Jim Morrow said. “It blew us away. It blew everybody away.”
As the years went by, they tried other fundraisers including a school raffle and games of bubble soccer.
Next was the iRun, a 5K that quickly gained popularity in the community. The first year they held the iRun, Jim Morrow said they had 105 participants, and the number grew from there.
With the start of the pandemic in 2020, Jim and Peggie moved the fundraiser online, asking community members to take part in what they called the iChallenge by getting out and exercising or moving in any way they wanted, then log their activity online, and whoever came out with the highest time was deemed the winner.
Even with the event taking place online, Jim and Peggie said the response was “fantastic.”
“It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun,” Jim Morrow said.
At the end of each year, Bearden said the work the Morrows put into the BYOT Benefit has always paid off, especially since the beginning of the pandemic when kids’ access to technology at home was essential.
When schools were forced to close in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Bearden said Forsyth County Schools gave out more than 7,000 Chromebooks to students who needed them at home.
“That would have never happened without the generosity of Jim and Peggie Morrow,” Bearden said.
Bearden and the board of education presented Jim and Peggie with a plaque as thanks for their efforts over the years to support students and the impact they have made on the community and the school system.
Before officially leaving BYOT Benefit to the Education Foundation, Jim and Peggie presented the last check during the board meeting. Through one virtual event this year, the two managed to raise $70,860 for the foundation.
Including this check, the couple has raised more than $445,000 for BYOT Benefit over the past nine years.
Jim Morrow attributed much of the BYOT Benefit’s success to community sponsors who have donated and supported them for years, including Julie Brennan, Lynn Jackson, Dr. Irfan Ansari, Chris Barger and many more.
“Dr. Bearden said we were generous,” Jim Morrow said. “We weren’t. Our sponsors were generous.”
Evan Profeta, chairmen of the Forsyth County Education Foundation, said that he and the rest of the governing board are excited to have BYOT Benefit as a new part of the foundation.
“We look forward to growing and furthering the incredible legacy that the Morrows have created,” he said. “And in recognition of their work, we’re excited to announce that we are officially changing the name of the iChallege fundraiser to the Dr. Jim and Peggie Morrow iChallenge.”
Foundation leaders presented the couple with a sign dedicating the iChallenge fundraiser to them and their legacy in the county.
“I would also like to thank you both for your dedication and hard work for the students and families of Forsyth County and for entrusting us with this amazing legacy that you’ve created,” Profeta said. “We appreciate your continued guidance and support as we take this forward for you.”