Thanks to nine coin flips, a local business leader was able to give a gift to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to help nontraditional students stay in school.
While at a Xerox President’s Club dinner, Kelly Smith, president of Dixie Digital Imaging in Fort Smith, participated in a game with other Xerox agents where each of them put $10 on their table and guessed whether a coin flip would be heads or tails. The winner would receive the proceeds to donate to a charity of their choice.
“Darren Cassidy, president of the United States Channels Unit at Xerox, told us to stand up and either put our hands on our heads or our tails,” Smith said.
Smith guessed it right once. And then he guessed it right again. And then he guessed it right four more times.
After the coin flips had narrowed it down to less than 10 people, they went up on the stage and continued the game. And Smith guessed it right three more times.
In all, he won $1,500 to donate, which he decided to give to the UAFS Rotary Club, which then used the money to apply for and receive a two-to-one matching grant with the Rotary District. In all, $4,500 was donated.
“I just felt like giving it to the university was the best use of that money,” he said. “My parents are teachers and my wife is a teacher, so we’re an education family. Education is the key.”
After discussing needs on campus, they decided to give nine $500 scholarships to nontraditional upper-level students to help them complete school.
“Dr. Beran had told us that for a lot of upper-level students, especially nontraditional ones, the difference between staying in school or dropping out can come down to $500,” he said.
Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, is also a member of the rotary club and expressed appreciation for the gift.
“We are enormously thankful for Mr. Smith’s generosity and pleased that he recognized the impact this gift could have on our university,” Beran said. “These funds will make a profound difference in the lives of some of our non-traditional students, who can face financial challenges during their journey to earn a college degree.”
Smith reflected on the gift and the luck that made it possible.
“Hopefully some of those who weren’t able to say in school before are able to now,” Smith said. “All because I picked a coin flip right nine times in a row.”