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Sept. 27, 2007

Columbia, S.C. –
Once they were cheered in athletic arenas on campuses throughout the Southeast. Today they are celebrated for the impact they have made around the world. This is a legion of student-athletes who have proudly donned the uniforms of their Southeastern Conference institution. They are the SEC’s greatest heritage…and the reason the league now celebrates 75 years. For 75 years, these have been the stories of the Southeastern Conference. They are the “Stories of Character” of former student-athletes whose contributions to society will reverberate for generations. This weekend at halftime of the football game, the University of South Carolina honors six individuals who have pioneered sports and championed a cause.

Tonique Williams-Darling, South Carolina, 1996-99
Tonique Willams-Darling steps into the blocks for the 400 meters, she runs so others can believe.

Tonique Williams-Darling, a two-time All-American and SEC champion sprinter at the University of South Carolina, graduated from USC’s Moore School of Business in 1999 and immediately embarked upon a history-making journey. After failing to advance beyond the 400 meter prelims during her first Olympics in 2000, Williams-Darling entered the 2004 Summer Games in Athens touting the world’s top time in the event. As she powered her way past the finish line and some of the world’s best sprinters during the biggest competition of her career, she not only became the first athlete from the Bahamas to win a gold medal in an individual race, but also the University of South Carolina’s first Olympic gold medalist. The following year, she added a gold medal in the 400 meters during the World Championships in Helsinki. Williams-Darling, whose time of 49.55 seconds was the fastest winning run in the event since Marie-Jose Perec in 1995, joined Perec and Cathey Freeman in holding both the Olympic and World titles simultaneously.

Now when Tonique Williams-Darling steps into the blocks for the 400 meters, she runs to honor the memory of a teacher who encouraged her to believe. Each time the defending World champion clocks in at 50 seconds or less, many deserving children from her home country will benefit from the foundation she established in his memory.

Bobby Dobson, South Carolina, 1959-60
Bobby Dobson walked away from a career as a CPA and lawyer to dedicate his life serving others.

A two-time tennis letterman at South Carolina, Bobby Dobson earned an accounting degree in 1960 followed by a law degree in 1962. For the next 30 years, Dobson was a successful CPA and tax attorney in his hometown of Greenville, S.C.

In 1993, after the death of his adopted daughter, he turned to his faith and began working at the ministry started by his father. Dobson Ministries, which is fully funded by his family, provides religious materials to the elderly in nursing homes and to youth in children’s homes.

Dobson is also involved with the Campus Crusades for Christ and serves as the chairman for the Homeless Children International and the Walker Foundation, which supports the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. Dobson also has founded Dobson Volunteer Service Program and Scholarship Fund at the University of South Carolina. The program encourages students to serve humanity through local and global mission trips, making a positive impact on the communities in which they serve.

Samuel R. Foster II, South Carolina, 1977-80
As a versatile track performer at South Carolina, Sam R. Foster II is successful entrepreneur that is still contributing to his alma mater.

A versatile track and field performer, Samuel R. Foster II competed in the long jump, triple jump and sprints at the University of South Carolina, where he served as captain for two years. While earning his Finance degree, Foster was a page in the South Carolina House of Representative.

Today, Foster is a real estate broker and the owner and president of a real estate development firm which specializes in urban renewal throughout North and South Carolina. He was the first African-American elected by the South Carolina General Assembly to serve on the university’s board of trustees, a position he has held since 1984. He serves on the following committees: Academic Affairs and Faculty, Buildings and Grounds, Intercollegiate Athletics. In 1987, Foster was honored with the University of South Carolina Young Alumni Award which is presented to a graduate of the past 10 years who has excelled in his or her chosen field.

Stan Juk, South Carolina, 1964-66
Stan Juk had the talent to play professional football, but he chose to pursue a career in medicine.

When Stan Juk concluded his South Carolina football career, he was talented enough to potentially make a career in the NFL. However, the 6-2, 210-pound defensive back had also excelled in the classroom while at USC, graduating cum laude with a degree in Chemistry. Selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL Draft, Juk, an Academic All-American opted to attend medical school after receiving an NCAA scholarship and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete scholarship.

Dr. Juk has practiced medicine for 28 years and today is the head of a cardiology practice in Columbia. His clinical research is published in many journals including The Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association, Emergency Medicine, and The American Journal of Cardiology. In 2006, Dr. Juk received the Carolina Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award.

Martha Parker Hester, South Carolina, 1985-89
Dr. Martha Parker Hester is one of the all-time greats in Gamecock women’s basketball, leading South Carolina to three-straight NCAA Tournament berths.

Martha Parker Hester is considered one of the best to ever wear a University of South Carolina women’s basketball uniform. She ranks in the top-10 of every statistical category in the Gamecock record books. A two-time All-American, her 1,728 points are sixth best all-time in program history, while she is No. 1 all-time in career starts with 122. She led South Carolina to three consecutive conference titles and three straight NCAA tournament bids. Parker Hester is one of only two women to have her jersey retired and one of four women’s basketball players in the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.

A pre-med major, she was a two Academic All-American and the recipient of the Baden Post-Graduate Scholarship. Parker Hester continued her education at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

Today, Dr. Parker Hester has a private practice with her husband, Martin, in Columbia. In 2000, she was honored by the SEC as South Carolina’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Jim Schaper, South Carolina, 1971-72, 74-75
Jim Schaper excelled for the South Carolina track team. Today he is excelling in the technology field.

Jim Schaper was a two-time track All-American at the University of South Carolina and a member of the Gamecocks’ 1974 national championship two-mile relay team. As an individual, he earned All-American honors in the indoor 880-yard dash and helped the South Carolina team finish third in the nation. To this day, Schaper still holds the school outdoor record in the 1,500-meters with a time of 3:42.48. As a senior, Schaper was selected to represent the United States in an indoor meet against Russia, collecting numerous United States Track and Field Federation honors.

Today, Jim Schaper is putting 30 years of experience in the technology industry to use as CEO of one the world’s leading software providers which has 8,000 employees and offices in 100 countries. Under his guidance, his company has acquired its competition while showing $2.1 billion