Gary Carter leaves lasting legacy

In his neat-as-a-pin office at the Gary Carter Foundation, the walls are lined with the achievements of a baseball legend.  Many recall a different legacy, one of generosity.
Jessica Hudak is the Treasurer of the Gary Carter Foundation and knew Carter well.  
"He earned that name, "The Kid," his smile, his personality could light up a room," she said.
At one point, she says, he learned that local Title One elementary schools needed assistance with reading.  
"Gary said, you know what, if they really need it, we're going to provide it," she explained.
That began the process of donating more than $700,000 to eight local Title One elementary schools, locations with the greatest need, for a literacy program called "Reading Counts."  The program encourages students to read books.  Once the children read a book, they take a quiz on a computer and receive points for passing.  The points can be traded in for prizes.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School is one location that has received the program from the Gary Carter Foundation.
Fourth grader Jacey Filer listed her incentives.  "A bike, a trophy, a shirt," she said.
Beyond the prizes, however, teachers have noticed the enthusiasm and the increased reading.
"Many of these children don't even have books at their home. And this way, it gives them a way to be able to say that they are achieving and that they are getting better at their reading comprehension," explained Media Specialist Virginia Case.
The Foundation contacted Case at the school seven years ago.
"He has been nothing but generous with our schools over these seven years and I can't even begin to add up how much he has supported our school.  And not only Reading Counts, but with books and coming to the end of the year assemblies," Case explained.  "Just giving of himself and that is something that will be missed."
"He has helped all grades to have read lots of books," said Patricia Luk, a 4th grader at Bethune. "It means he has a really great heart for this school."
Fifth grader Gabrielle Howard said, "That's kind of special and nice that someone would be thoughtful of a school."
Howard says, the program has improved her skills with reading.
"When I read books I actually think about what it's saying and how it influences me," she said.
The Gary Carter Foundation operates with very little overhead and without a payroll. The office shares space with a local investment advisor, Atlantic Capital Management. Hudak says the staff at the investment firm all chip in to keep the organization running.
The foundation has also donated another $350,000 to local non-profits.  Two in particular have supported the research and assistance for people with juvenile diabetes and autism.
"As long as people continue to donate, we will do our best to continue to give it back," Hudak said.
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