Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award: In partnership with The Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute, the Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award is given in recognition of meritorious public service throughout the world each year.

Considered the “Nobel Prize of Wrestling,”  the Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award was established by the Lou Thesz /George Tragos Wrestling Hall of Fame of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and is awarded to an individual in the sport of wrestling that has taken the skills, courage, and mental toughness that are the tenets of the sport and has taken it to the realm of public service to those throughout the world in need.

The award is named in honor of the six time world heavyweight champion Lou Thesz.  The award stands in memory and honor of not only his athletic achievements but also to reflect the man he was and his compassion for those who are struggling and find themselves in need.  Lou always had great admiration for their courage and for those who reached out to them.  Lou and his wife Charlie were instrumental in the growth of Eblen Charities and have inspired many of the programs and outreaches and always encouraged our work by reminding us, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.”  William Murdock, founding director of the Eblen Charities and the Center for Social Enterprise was honored as the first recipient in July of 2007 in a ceremony in Waterloo, Iowa.

Graduation Initiative Compass Award: The Compass Award recognizes schools and school leaders who are “heading in the right direction” by implementing best practices in dropout prevention.  Buncombe County Schools earned recognition for their impressive school-wide focus on professional development, literacy and parental involvement.

The Graduation Initiative awards the Compass Award quarterly to the primary, elementary, middle, or high schools that lead the way with various strategies and methods designed to better equip teachers working with a rapidly growing and changing population of students by providing innovative methods to encourage and keep students in school until graduation.

The Frank Lewis Award: Established to recognize an area school each year for outstanding service, the Frank Lewis Memorial award is named in memory of Frank Lewis, beloved Buncombe County educator.  Lewis served the children of Buncombe County as teacher, principal,, and assistant superintendent for more than 25 years, before passing away in 2002.  In partnership with Pepsi of Asheville, Outback Steakhouse, and Ingle’s Markets, the winning school each year receives $1,000 from Pepsi Cola, a banner to be displayed in the school, and the knowledge that touching children and families in times of need is one of the greatest hallmarks of education.

The Eblen Award for Meritorious Public Service: Conferred by the board of directors to an outstanding individual, company, or organization that exemplifies the spirit of the Eblen Charities in touching the lives of those less fortunate in our community, the Meritorious Public Service Award serves as the highest honor that is given by our organization.

The award is not confined solely to the work of Eblen Charities, but may be given out to anyone that has given exemplary service to those in need in our community through innovation, outreach, or example of selfless endeavors that provide assistance to those who may be less fortunate.

Our Accomplishments

  • Each year tens of thousands of children, adults, and families are assisted through our numerous programs, partnerships, and outreach.
  • Twenty-five percent of all children in Buncombe County enrolled in Health Choice for Children are paid for by our Children’s Healthcare Initiative in partnership with Mission Health Systems.
  • Brad Johnson, quarterback of the Super Bowl XXXVII Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, serves as the honorary chairman if the Eblen Charities.
  • Brad Daugherty, University of North Carolina, Cleveland Cavalier basketball star, and NASCAR analyst serves as honorary chairman of the Eblen Center for Social Enterprise.
  • Our programs are open to all children, adults, and families living with illnesses and disabilities and in need of emergency assistance regardless of income.
  • Eblen Charities remains the top referral agency of the United Way and other local assistance agencies.
  • All money raised remains in western North Carolina.
  • Each year the Food for Thought program distributes tens of thousands of snacks to western North Carolina classrooms at no cost.
  • More than 40,000 meals are provided each year through the Eblen/Hearts with Hands Grocery Program.
  • Each year the St. Nicholas Project in partnership with Santa Pal assists more than 3,000 families.
  • Each year more than 2,000 sealants are placed on area second graders each year through our Dental Sealant Program.
  • Tens of thousands of gallons of oil are given out through the Eblen Energy Project each year (the equivalent of more than ten tankers).