GREENSBORO — One of the state’s newest hall of famers is raising money for his local hall of fame.
Conservationist and outdoorsman Eddie Bridges of Greensboro is leading the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame’s effort to create an endowment fund to supplement the group’s budget.
Bridges, a 2011 inductee into Guilford’s hall, knows a thing or two about endowment funds. He estimates he’s raised more than $200 million in his lifetime for endowments for non-profits, state programs and his alma mater Elon University.
Bridges founded the non-profit North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation, a group that has raised $5 million over time and paid for about $1.5 million in projects all over the state.
The $100,000 goal for Guilford County’s Hall of Fame is modest by comparison, and Bridges says $20,000 in pledges have already been received. The hall hopes to reach its goal before its 2019 induction banquet in the fall.
Money from the endowment fund would help the county hall of fame cover annual expenses, make improvements and do more for local charities it currently supports.
“It’s a good cause, and it interests a lot of people,” Bridges says. “They have a lot of costs. It won’t happen overnight, but as soon as they accumulate enough money to put into a wealth-management fund then it will begin to generate some revenue. My idea is to leave the principal alone, not ever tough that, and just use the interest earnings. It’s an identical thing to the North Carolina Wildlife Endowment Fund.”
Maybe. But on a smaller scale. Bridges proposed and created the N.C. Wildlife Endowment for the state, and over time raised $130 million.
It’s a part of his life’s work as an advocate for the outdoors that landed him in this year’s induction class for the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh.
“I’m really excited about that,” Bridges says. “It’s something I never expected to be part of my life’s journey. I’ve gotten a lot of awards from a lot of places over the years, a lot of publicity. But going into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is about a lot more than Eddie Bridges.
“It’s about the thousands of people who are members of my foundation and other interested folk who have embraced my cause. It’s about the 1 million men, women and children who hunt and fish in North Carolina, people who have generated $2.3 billion a year for our state’s economy. No other sport has done that.”
Bridges will be inducted at a ceremony in Raleigh on May 3, and he joins 11 other new members as part of the hall’s 56th class that also includes retired N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway, former ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan, PGA Tour star Davis Love III, Guilford College alumnus Thell Overman and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In the meantime, he’ll continue working on his latest effort with the county’s hall.
“I’m going to dedicate a lot of time to it during this next year,” Bridges says. “I don’t want to be a one-man band. I could use some help. But I’m excited about it, and I think it will work.”
Tax-deductible gifts to the new endowment can be sent to GCSHOF at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Gate City Blvd, Greensboro NC, 27403. For more information call (336) 375-4994.