Brad Daugherty heads back to his roots to announce tree project
Before becoming co-owner of NASCAR Cup Series team JTG Daugherty Racing, or a longtime sports analyst, Brad Daugherty was a five-time All-Star for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who selected him with the first overall pick in the 1986 NBA draft.
Before any of that, he was an All-American for the UNC Tar Heels, and even prior to his stint under the legendary college head coach Dean Smith, he donned maroon and white for the Owen Warhorses and led them to the state finals in 1982.
The roots for Daugherty's success, both on and off the court, can be traced back to his hometown, where he returned April 23 to announce a plan that will replace trees recently removed from the grounds of his former school, Black Mountain Primary.
Daugherty ceremoniously planted one of five trees next to the Ingles on N.C. 9 as he announced a partnership between the Black Mountain-based grocery store and Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a multinational company that includes product lines like Cottonelle, Huggies, Kleenex, Kotex and Pull-Ups, among others. The project, which also involves Vermont-based nonprofit One Tree Planted, aims to plant 5,000 trees in communities throughout the southeast this year.
Among those trees will be one representing each classroom on the campus of the primary school, Daugherty announced.
“I grew up about a mile from here,” he said before the ceremony, pointing south from a patch of grass in the Ingles parking lot, where officials from Ingles and Kimberly-Clark and the town of Black Mountain gathered for the event. “I’ve walked this road a thousand times; I used to come down Vance Avenue with my basketball or baseball stuff. I grew up here in these hills and mountains.”
Buncombe County Schools removed a group of large trees from the campus of the primary school earlier this year, citing the potential dangers they posed during strong winds and storms. As part of the school’s comprehensive security plan, the area where the trees once stood is being converted to a parking lot, which will allow a centralized location for visitors to park and enter the school.
Ingles, which is among Buncombe County’s largest employers, was interested in replacing the trees at the primary school, according to Melissa Leavell, the advertising director for the company. She said the trees will be planted in the “near future.”
“We heard about the decades-old trees that were recently cut down and wanted to give back to the community by planting trees for every classroom in safer areas on the campus,” she said.
As Ingles and Kimberly-Clark sought to create a sustainability initiative, the companies reached out to Brand Activation Maximizer (BAM), which is co-owned by Daugherty. Mark Kelso, who appeared in four Super Bowls as a safety and special teams standout for the Buffalo Bills during his NFL career, is the vice president of client development for BAM.
“Mark spearheaded this opportunity,” Daugherty said. “It’s really unique and it’s a great opportunity for communities like Black Mountain. It’s something different and relevant and impacts our ecosystem.”
Kelso, who spoke at the ceremony, said it was “an honor to be part of the sustainability efforts and help connect the dots.”
When Daugherty saw that his hometown would be among the beneficiaries of the program he was excited to be involved.
“I wanted to be here for this no matter what,” he said. “Ingles asked if I’d like to be a part of it and of course I said yes.”
Mayor Don Collins opened the event by thanking Ingles and Kimberly-Clark for the trees. He introduced the speakers: Leavell, Kelso and Daugherty.
Daugherty said it was an “honor and a privilege” to be part of this endeavor in Black Mountain.
“I went to Black Mountain Primary many, many, many years ago,” he said in an interview. “I know they had some older trees taken down there recently and for Ingles and Kimberly-Clark to include them in this partnership, which will plant 5,000 trees around the southeast, was tremendous.”
Daugherty planted a 7-foot tree with the help of Brayden and Tanner Fullbright, who were in the store with their parents before the ceremony began. The brothers, who live in Black Mountain, were eager to help, according to their mother.
Officials from Ingles and Kimberly-Clark planted trees during the event, as well.
From May 8-28, certain purchases of Kimberly-Clark brands Cottonelle and Viva, at Ingles, will be $1 off. That dollar will then be given to One Tree Planted, which plants trees around the world for $1 each.
Those trees will be placed in communities that are home to the 200 Ingles supermarkets in the region.
"Ingles has a strong commitment to sustainability, from recycling tons of materials, environmentally friendly products and packaging and energy saving fixtures," Leavell said. "This tree planting is consistent with that commitment and we look forward to continued expansion of our sustainability efforts."