Lee Family Gives USC Upstate a Gift from the Heart

December 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Pictured from left, Johnny and Laurie Lee presented a $10,000 gift in memory of their son, Josh Lee, to Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice chancellor for university advancement, and Julio Freire, athletics director and vice chancellor for intercollegiate sports.

Even though he died in 2015, Josh Lee’s legacy continues to live on at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, the late student-athlete’s parents, Laurie and Johnny Lee, presented the University with a $10,000 gift in memory of their son during a brief ceremony at the 2017 Appreciation Reception to honor supporters of Spartans athletics.

This gift brings the Lees one step closer to their goal of raising a minimum of $750,000 for the Josh Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund, which they want to be used toward the construction of a facility for cross country and track and field in memory of the student-athlete, who ran both at USC Upstate. The Josh Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund was established and endowed immediately following the October 2015 car wreck.

The donation comes from the sales of “Just Finish the Race: A Testimony of a Mother’s Love to Finish Her Son’s Race,” which Laurie Lee wrote after Josh Lee’s death. The remembrance has sold 1,400 copies since its publishing this spring, according to Laurie Lee.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support,” Laurie Lee said of book sales. “Giving all the proceeds from the book to Josh’s scholarship is my and Johnny’s way of paying it forward, because Josh always put others first. The scholarship will enable another student athlete to finish their race and the stadium will represent a runner who never gave up and who was loved by so many – a true Spartan at heart.”

In her role as executive director of the USC Upstate Foundation, Dr. Meredith Brunen, vice chancellor for university advancement, accepted the donation from the Lees.

“We are so honored to remember Josh Lee in this way at USC Upstate,” Brunen said of the donation. “The proceeds from Laurie Lee’s touching book will benefit countless students through scholarship support, helping them finish their educational race and begin their professional journeys.”

Julio Freire, USC Upstate’s athletics director and vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics, expressed his appreciation for the Lee’s generosity, and also talked about the importance of the Lee family to the University.

“I am very grateful to Laurie and Johnny Lee for their donation to the Josh Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund,” he said. “Josh was an integral part of our cross country and track and field programs, and he is sorely missed by all who knew him. Laurie and Johnny both mean so much to the USC Upstate athletics family and their contribution will help a deserving student-athlete in the future.”

There were five USC Upstate student athletes in the car at the time of the single-vehicle wreck; only Felicia Ahlborg, a 20-year-old member of the University’s tennis team from Sweden, survived. Killed, in addition to Lee, were Sarah Grace Vande Berg, 21, of Florida; James Robert Campbell, 21, of Greenville; and Horace Miller “Mills” Sproull IV, 20, of Alabama.

Since writing the book, Lee’s life has been opened to a number of opportunities. She has become a popular speaker, and has upcoming engagements at the Spartanburg Country Club and the R.D. Anderson Vocational School. She will also participate in a victims-advocate panel during a MADD event in Greenville.

Pick up a Copy of “Just Finish the Race”

Laurie Lee’s book about her son Josh and the impact of his death, “Just Finish the Race: A Testimony of a Mother’s Love to Finish Her Son’s Race,” is available at a variety of local outlets, as well as online through book retailers such as Amazon.com. Locally, it can be purchased at White’s Pine Street Exxon; Hub City Bookshop; the USC Upstate Bookstore; Christian Supply; Antiques and Moore (Cowpens); Stomping Grounds Coffee House and Wine Bar (Greer); and the Broome High School Athletics Booster Club.