Lewis and Raulerson Inc, BP Food Mart owner Ketan Patel, Aggie football legend Edward Neal NeSmith and the Albertville City Schools Foundation have teamed up to pump in contributions to the city’s students through the BP Spirit Pumps program.
At both of Albertville’s BP stations — located at 7435 U.S. Highway 431 and 6616 U.S. Highway 431 — there will be special pumps wrapped with the red and black for the Aggies. The program donates a portion of money spent from each gallon of gasoline bought at the spirit pump to the city’s schools, according to Connie Cofield, who is Business Development Manager for Alabama at Lewis and Raulerson, Inc. She said it’s an act designed to give back to the community. During times when school funding is a problem, she said the company hopes to provide an inspirational example of giving back to the city’s youth.
The Albertville City Schools Foundation Executive Director Kathy Poe said the foundation provides financial support avenue for the Albertville City Schools by offering grants and support to its many programs by securing financial resources for enhanced needs of students. She said the primary focus is instructional materials, equipment and technology, fine arts through the Aggie Theatre, grants for teachers and the Ready To Learn program — which provides assistance to students in need of clothing, shoes, school supplies, dental work or other basic items or students requiring help paying fees/buying equipment to participate in extra- curricular activities.
To launch the program, Cofield said there would be an unveiling celebration at the BP, located at 7435 Highway 431 in Albertville, on Friday, Nov. 15, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
“No other brand of gas in the State of Alabama is doing this promotion,” Cofield said. “This will be the first in Alabama to participate in a program of this caliber. Have you ever heard of a gas station donating money to a foundation like the Albertville City Schools Foundation? This is a promotion for the schools in Albertville, that we as BP and Lewis and Raulerson, Inc are proud to be a part of.”
According to Cofield, Patel was so inspired by how much the community has embraced his business and family that he wanted to give a one-time donation of $5,000, and monthly, he’ll donate $500 for each BP in Albertville. Since Patel’s son is an Aggie, Cofield said he was glad to help create a pump that gives back to the schools.
Along with Patel’s donations, Cofield said Lewis and Raulerson, Inc. BP distributors would make a $1,000 donation. Also, NeSmith, who is the property owner of both BPs, will make a one-time donation of $1,200.
Being that NeSmith built the stations and now leases them, he said he was excited to be involved in a program that would be giving back to his alma mater.
NeSmith is a former Aggie star-quarterback and first member of the Albertville City Schools Foundation. He was inducted into the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Hal Hayes, Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame member, in describing Ed NeSmith once wrote in a newspaper article, “He could outrun a deer in a head-to-head footrace. He was master of the play called the option, possessing a pair of hands that were lightning and a wiggle of the hip found only in snakes.’
NeSmith was honored by the 20-man panel that picked an all-time great Albertville football team. Hayes was covering sports for The Reporter when NeSmith was selected the outstanding quarterback of the 11 honorees. NeSmith at 6 feet, 2 inches and 175 pounds passed with radar-like accuracy (completing 42 of 59 as a senior – an 83% average) and ran like the wind (going 1,106 yards rushing and with punt and kickoff returns). NeSmith’s Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame teammates include Neal Reed, Jimmy Alford and Tommy Maddux.
Coach Murray Warmath recruited NeSmith to MSU, where he was a two-year letterman at QB/DB, finished his play for Coach Wade Walker in 1957.
NeSmith left Albertville High School as an ‘A’ student. The maroon scholar/athlete left college having been on the Dean’s List eight semesters and the President’s List seven semesters. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and graduated with highest honors (2.82 out of a possible 3.0).
As an Albertville businessman, NeSmith, has been a community and church leader in his hometown. Education has always been important to him as indicated by his years of service as a trustee of Albertville schools and as a past president of the Albertville City Board of Education. At one point in the early 1960s, NeSmith served as part-time assistant football coach for Coach G.B. Beasley at Albertville.
The Reporter Sports Editor Shannon J. Allen contributed to this article.