The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


December 23, 2013

Tree tells story with “Memorial Lights”

TARBORO — The days before Christmas can be a frantic time, as people scour the shelves of stores for those final items on their shopping list, wrap presents and attend holiday parties. But one Christmas emblem gives pause to Tarboro residents, and the hope of The Pilot Club of Tarboro is that it is a reminder of the reason for the season.

A towering tree covered with Christmas lights stands on the Town Common near the Veterans Memorial, and each light on the tree is in honor of or in memory of someone.

“Christmas should be about family and friends and doing good things. That is the spirit of Christmas,” said Carolyn Worden, president of The Pilot Club of Tarboro. “It’s not about the number of presents under the tree but the difference you make.”

Worden believes the Memorial Lights are making a difference. Money raised from the sale of the Memorial Lights helps support The Pilot Club’s various projects surrounding their mission of treatment and prevention of brain-related diseases, disorders and injuries, and improving the quality of life of those with brain-related injuries.

This year, Worden estimated more than 900 lights are hung on the tree in memory of a loved one, while another 600 hung in honor of a loved one.

“It’s just a very special feeling to know that people are honored or remembered in such a kind way,” Worden said.

Some of the lights on the Memorial Tree are in memory of Worden’s parents, Hal and Inez Myers. Others are in memory of her daughter, Elizabeth Ann Worden, who passed away in 2007.

“I think there are a total of 74 lights for her,” Worden said.

Worden had tears in her eyes as she recounted the story of her daughter.

“She was in an accident in 1985 and suffered a severe closed head injury. She was on her way to Tarboro High School,” Worden said.

Elizabeth Ann was a 16-year-old student at the time. She lived another 22 years after that tragic day. The head injury affected her speech, left her wheelchair-bound, and caused her pain, but Worden said she still held down a full-time job.

“She fought back with a lot of courage.”

Her daughter’s experience was one of the reasons why Worden joined The Pilot Club four years ago.

“I’m very proud of their mission and what they do,” she said.

The Pilot Club of Tarboro was founded in 1975 and the Memorial Lights campaign was one of the club’s original projects.

Worden is hoping for a profit of $2,500 from this year’s campaign. She looks forward to using the proceeds to send a child to autism camp, among other projects, which include the following: a scholarship for a high-school senior in Edgecombe County, a scholarship for a nursing student at Edgecombe Community College. Edgecombe County Special Olympics, donations to special populations teacher in Edgecombe schools, Easter bunny visits to local nursing homes and hospital, Veterans Day program and Memorial Day program on Town Common, donation to Edgecombe County Veterans Museum, donation to Edgecombe Alzheimer’s Walk, donation to “Brain Minders” programs for children Edgecombe schools and senior citizens, and ice cream party for Skilled Creations.

Those interested in joining The Pilot Club or supporting their mission should contact Worden at 823-1882.


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