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Charles Holt's Legacy

Charles Holt's Legacy
You could call Charles B. Holt "Mr. Fayetteville." The town held a large piece of his heart. Perhaps that's why he served the community so tirelessly. For 16 years he served as an elected official, serving on the city council, holding the position of mayor and then serving three terms in the State House of Representatives. He also sat on the Board of Directors for Cumberland Community Foundation, YMCA and Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation.

Holt passed away in 2011, but with the help of his wife, Peggy, he continues to serve the Fayetteville community. Mrs. Holt has established the Charles B. C. Holt endowment to ensure that Cape Fear Valley Diabetes and Endocrine Center can continue to care for the area's diabetic population for years to come.

"Charlie was an insulin-dependent diabetic for 40 years," said Peggy Holt. "He tried to control the diabetes with diet and exercise, but eventually he had to go on insulin."

Holt became very health conscious. He watched what he ate and worked out often, as he knew that weight control and a sensible diet were an important part of blood sugar control. He lost 40 pounds, yet his diabetes was still out of control. Watching her husband struggle was frightening for Mrs. Holt.

"The hardest parts were the highs and lows," she said. "Sometimes he would go unconscious. His sugar levels would become so low."

Having uncontrolled diabetes proved difficult for Mr. Fayetteville because it meant he had to travel outside the county for care. At the time, Fayetteville had no physicians who specialized in diabetes or endocrinology.

But things were about to change for Holt and the other diabetics in the community. In 2004, Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation began a capital campaign to raise money for a local diabetes care facility. A project such as this is at the heart of the Health Foundation's mission – to serve the community and support Cape Fear Valley Health as it provides compassionate, quality care for all its patients. But it was no easy undertaking.

A project this large would require significant fundraising efforts, so the Foundation Board approached Holt to chair the fundraising committee. With his community service background, Holt was well known throughout the community, making him a perfect candidate for fundraising chair. He accepted and, with his help, the capital campaign raised more than $1.75 million. On Nov. 16, 2007, Cape Fear Valley Health and the Health Foundation opened the doors to Cape Fear Valley Diabetes and Endocrine Center.

"And then Charlie became a patient," said Peggy Holt.

She and her husband got to know the staff of the Diabetes and Endocrine Center very well – as well as his fellow patients.

"We'd sit in the waiting room and Charlie would be so concerned for the other patients," Holt said. "He would often say that education is the key to prevention and he wanted to educate everyone." Interest from the endowment will be used to enhance diabetes research, education and patient care at the Diabetes and Endocrine Center.

Holt's daughter, Sarah Holt Cox, is a registered nurse in the operating room at Highsmith-Rainey Specialty Hospital, which is located across the street from the Diabetes and Endocrine Center. She says she often thinks of her father when she pulls into work. She believes he would be thrilled that an endowment in his name will help make such an impact on the lives of local diabetics.

"He used to bring supplies to a diabetic child in my son, Charles', class," she said.

The girl's family could not afford to purchase the supplies on their own so Holt would make sure she had what she needed to check her blood sugar and be proactive.

"That child is 24 now and doing well," Cox said. "Dad would always do wonderful things like that for people, but he never wanted attention for any of it. He was so humble and he didn't want anything to be about him ever."

Cox remembers how much passion her father had for diabetes and diabetes education.

"He would talk to anyone, anywhere about exercise," she said. "It bothered him to see people, especially kids, who were not taking care of themselves."

Mrs. Holt, agrees. She would also love to see some of the endowment money used to increase diabetes education through the Cape Fear Valley Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrine Center. She, like her late husband, worries about the children and the increasing numbers of them diagnosed with diabetes each year.

"Charlie used to say, 'Let's not let any more people get this horrible disease,'" she said. "I'm very grateful to the Foundation and health system for setting up the center and including Charlie. If this endowment can help prevent even one person from getting diabetes, I think Charlie would be absolutely thrilled."
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