WCU dean’s daughter conducting fundraiser for counseling center

Cadence Railsback receives congratulations for her fundraising efforts from John Ritchie (right), director of WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, while her father, WCU Honors College Dean Brian Railsback, looks on.

Cadence Railsback receives congratulations for her fundraising efforts from John Ritchie (right), director of WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, while her father, WCU Honors College Dean Brian Railsback, looks on.

It’s a “like-father, like-daughter” scenario for Western Carolina University Honors College Dean Brian Railsback and Cadence Railsback when it comes to raising money for worthy causes at WCU.

The elder Railsback has a long history of using pedal power to bolster the Honors College’s student scholarship fund, having completed seven bicycle rides for pledges over the past 11 years. This time, it’s his daughter, a senior at Smoky Mountain High School, heading up the fundraising effort, with the beneficiary being WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.

Cadence Railsback decided to conduct a fundraising campaign for the WCU center as her senior project at Smoky Mountain High. She began the project by sending out fundraising letters to local businesses and community organizations in September, and she has appeared at meetings of several local organizations, including the Rotary Club, to solicit donations.

When it came time to plan some sort of event to raise funds, her parents suggested a long run for pledges, since Cadence Railsback is an all-conference and all-region member of Smoky Mountain’s cross-country team, but she had other ideas.

“I had watched Dad do all those pledge bicycle rides over the years, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.

On a sunny November weekend, the father and daughter mounted a tandem bicycle and rode 87 miles over two days on a route that took them from their home in Jackson County’s Tilley Creek community to the town of Highlands, south to Dillard, Ga., back north to Webster, and then home.

So far, Cadence Railsback has raised about $800 for WCU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, and her fundraising campaign continues through Friday, Jan. 9.

During meetings with center Director John Ritchie, a plan was developed to use the money raised by Railsback to help the center’s student clients who find themselves in dire financial situations.

An account will be established to provide interest-free loans, or outright grants, to students to help with the cost of basic living expenses, medications, and transportation to off-campus caregivers, as well as help victims of sexual assault with emergency room costs, Ritchie said.

“We want to thank Cadence for all her efforts and concern for our student clients,” Ritchie said. “We often find ourselves in the case-management role of trying to find resources for students who are in difficult financial situations. We work with students every semester who cannot afford the cost of medications or community mental health resources. This will be a tremendous help.”

Individuals interested in assisting the center by donating through Cadence Railsback’s fundraising campaign should contact her at (828) 293-5624.