For their commitment to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Edwards will be celebrated at this year’s SpectacUALR.
By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves | Shot on location at Jack Stephens Center with the Trojan Mascot
One way to practice humility, Mother Teresa said, is to “speak as little as possible of one’s self.” This is precisely how the Edwards family perceives civic leadership – with humble + sincere philanthropy that’s about the recipient and not personal recognition.
Mary and Rick Edwards and their children – Roderick, Chad and Melinda – will be celebrated at this year’s SpectacUALR for their unwavering support of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. For this self-described ‘behind the scenes’ couple, it was certainly a challenge convincing them to accept this recognition.
Chasse Conque, UA Little Rock director of athletics, was determined that the Edwards be honored for their generosity of time + resources as well as their enthusiastic investment in the athletics programs and the university’s success. “Chasse said that asking us to accept the award was like proposing to his wife a second time,” Mary notes.
The Edwards have been cheerleaders of Trojan athletics ever since a friend invited them to a Trojan basketball game nearly two decades ago. They have remained faithful – and audible – front-row fans at as many sporting events as they are able to attend. “You know you’ll hear Mary at a game,” Rick says.
The Edwards intentionally invest in athletics because they appreciate the valuable character traits it develops. “Student-athletes really learn a lot about people, discipline and teamwork, and that team emphasis translates to their careers,” Rick notes.
“We look at it as giving back for what we’ve been given,” Mary says. “It’s not the amount, it’s the fact that you’re giving. Every little bit helps a student. This next generation, they are the future.” Echoing Mary’s sentiment, Rick adds, “If it has to do with education for the kids, then we want to help.”
The Edwards also delight in supporting other departments of the university – for example, they partnered with Saline Memorial Hospital to establish the Rick and Mary Edwards Scholarship for the school of nursing. Additionally, Rick notes that he and his wife care deeply about improving the welfare of all Arkansans. They are invested in the future of universities and organizations including – but certainly not limited to – Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
“I don’t think you will ever find more humble servants than Rick and Mary. Their family’s interests are far reaching across this state,” Chasse explains. “If every organization they support came together and opened up about what the Edwards have done for them, I think we would all be amazed at how much they do for others with little or no recognition – just the way they like it. That is why honoring them this year has been so much fun.”
The ninth annual SpectacUALR, hosted by the UA Little Rock Department of Athletics with presenting sponsors Kathryn and Blanche Murphy and Marilyn and Greg Brown, will feature silent + live auction items as well as cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. In the past, the Edwards have been the presenting sponsor through their security company, Triple-S Alarm Co., Inc. but this year, it’s about honoring their family’s legacy. Proceeds from the event provide scholarships to student-athletes + make campus improvements possible.
Rick and Mary are the last folks who will ever talk about Rick and Mary, but the proof of their generosity is manifest in the lives they’ve impacted throughout the state. “You never know the affect that the little things you say and do have on people,” Rick says.
The Edwards + athletics:
Favorite sport? Golf Basketball
Favorite professional athlete? Lee Trevino Derek Fisher
Your sport? Baseball Cheerleading