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2019-07-22T22:07:34-06:00March 20th, 2015|

Wilma Wooten: A Recipe for Success

How One Elvis Fan’s Cookbook Has Raised Donations

Each August, 81-year-old Wilma Wooten loads up the car with her daughter Melanie and makes the 650-mile drive from her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Memphis for Elvis Week. Odds are, you’ve seen her at some point, selling t-shirts and taking donations outside of the Elvis Presley Trauma Center during Elvis Week in August.

While Wilma has not always been a big Elvis fan, that changed on August 16, 1977, when she saw how the death of the Rock ‘n’ Roll legend impacted her eight-year-old son.

“When I put my son to bed that night, he was so upset. He said he always thought he’d get to see Elvis someday,” Wilma said. “Seeing my son’s reaction and hearing about all the good things Elvis did for people really touched me.”

The following year, Wilma began the first of many long drives to Memphis. In 1983, during one of her annual visits, Wilma attended the dedication of the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at Regional Medical Center. She learned that Elvis fans committed to raising funds to support this critical new center that would provide life-saving care to the community. Wilma was so inspired by fellow fans that she found a way to help.

“My husband and I were driving down hamburger alley in Winston-Salem where all of the restaurants are and he said, ‘Doesn’t anybody cook anymore?’ and it just rang a bell – a cookbook! I’ll create a cookbook to raise some money for the new trauma center!”

Wilma reached out to Elvis fan clubs across the country, letting them know what she was doing and they happily sent in their recipes for the first, second, third and fourth cookbooks.

The donations kept coming — $5,000, $10,000, $15,000… In 1985, the Regional Medical Center administration determined the need to set up a foundation to oversee donations. That’s how the Regional One Health Foundation that we know today was born.

Wilma was asked to serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. She held this position until December 2013. She is extremely proud of all that has been accomplished by the Foundation over the years.

“WHEN I FIRST STARTED THIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY IN 1978, I THOUGHT, IF I COULD JUST RAISE $5,000, IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL.” WILMA WOOTEN

“Three decades and more than $75,000 later, I am still going strong and do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Supporting the Elvis Presley Trauma Center and Regional One Health Foundation is where my heart is.”

» Join Wilma Wooten in supporting Regional One Health Foundation. Make your donation today.

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