Fund-raiser set for Gaither House, scholarships
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Moses White is the scheduled guest speaker for an event being billed as a Weekend of Champions –a benefit for the Jake Gaither House.
White has asked organizer Cornelius Jones not to worry about any of the expenses associated with his trip from Atlanta to Tallahassee. If they’d offered to cover his travel and hotel cost he’d refuse, White said.
He insisted that he didn’t turn down the gesture because he’s a successful businessman who co-owns 10 grocery stores in Georgia. It’s all about the cause, he said, attributing his success to a life-changing conversation that he had in the 1960’s with Gaither, a legend among Black college football coaches.
“He supported me in my last year of high school,” White said. “I still hadn’t finished my thuggish way of living. This is the story that they are going to hear.”
White plans to tell his entire story when he speaks at an awards dinner at Gaither Gym on FAMU’s campus, beginning at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11. The weekend-long fund-raiser for the Gaither House and a scholarship for underprivileged children will continue Nov. 12 with a golf tournament and a 5K race, followed the next day by a brunch.
White said he’ll purchase a table and make a cash donation, calling it the least he could do to support a cause for the man who changed his life.
Getting into trouble was so constant for White that one of the last times he faced a judge, the man on the bench suggested that White leave Hillsborough County.
White ended up in Tallahassee, sharing a dormitory with his older brother who was a player on Gaither’s football team at FAMU. White’s waywardness didn’t end.
Gaither got wind of his troublesome behavior and intervened with a tongue-lashing that White said rattled him. “Get out of my face,” White recalled Gaither saying. “You’re disgusting.”
But Gaither’s compassion kicked in. He hugged White and told him how successful he could be if he’d only change.
The light came on. White eventually won a spot as a tight end on Gaither’s team. He went on to a brief career in the NFL before becoming the manager for singers Marvin Gaye and James Brown.
White praised Jones for what he is doing to keep Gaither’s legacy alive. A little more than a year ago, Jones purchased the Gaither House, saving it from being auctioned off. He also paid off a storage fee to secure the memorabilia stowed in the house.
None of the memorabilia was damaged when Hurricane Matthew caused an oak tree to fall on the house. It caused $60,000 worth of damage, which Jones has since repaired.
Now he’s planned an event with a sense of purpose to preserve Gaither’s legacy.
“The awareness it brings to the house is symbolic,” Jones said. “Coach Gaither is football, as far as I’m concerned.”