Michael and Sharon Harrell Named Chairs of MRH Auxiliary Ball
BY BRENDA BOUSER
Special to The Pilot
The mutual friends who set Michael Harrell and Sharon Nicholson up on a blind date in Maryland more than 20 years ago figured that -something good was bound to come out of the new acquaintance.
The well-intentioned matchmakers knew that their friends were both from North Carolina, so they -figured that the two would either like each other and -follow up or always have someone to ride with on road trips back home.
As luck would have it, both scenarios turned out just as planned.
The Harrells have been married since 1992. This year, they are chairing the 2011 FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary Ball. It's a fitting honor, since Sharon Nicholson Harrell, DDS, MPH, is director of the FirstHealth Dental Care Centers, which will receive the proceeds from the Dec. 10 fundraising event.
"I'm proud of the fact that the ball is going to bring light to the people our clinics serve," says Dr. Harrell. "It's a great opportunity that will help enhance our services."
A portion of the money raised by the 2011 Holiday Ball will go toward daily Dental Care Center operations, while the remainder will become seed money for an endowment that supporters hope will eventually reach $3 million. An endowment should help ensure continued services in much the same way that the FirstHealth Hospice Foundation supports the work of FirstHealth Hospice & Palliative Care.
An endowment ensuring perpetual program support is something that Harrell has hoped for and thought about for a long time.
"It's a dream come true," she says.
As chairs of the 2011 Holiday Ball, the Harrells are the public faces for the -signature Hospital Auxiliary fundraiser. In private life, they are each other's greatest fans. An admitted workaholic, Harrell looks forward to relaxing with her husband after an "exhilarating" day of administering the work of the three Dental Care Centers.
"We complement each other in that I am the type A and he is the type B," she says.
"I'm glad that she's done such a great job," he says simply.
A native of Edenton in northeastern North Carolina and an industrial technology graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, Michael Harrell was working with the Naval Air System Command in Crystal City, Va., when he met Dr. Sharon Nicholson. A native of Rockingham and a recent graduate of the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she was working on a certificate in advanced general dentistry from the University of Maryland's College of Dental Surgery.
The two quickly hit it off and were married within a few years. Their intention was always to return to North Carolina, and they got the chance when Sharon Harrell was offered the position of dental director for the Cumberland County Health Department.
She became director of the FirstHealth Dental Care Centers in 1998.
Michael Harrell worked as a program manager in quality assurance for 18 years, much of the time commuting to the Research Triangle Park from their home in Fayetteville and later in Pinehurst. Since leaving that industry in 2008, he has been a real estate agent for Prudential Gouger O'Neal and Saunders in Pinehurst.
He also volunteers with FirstHealth of the Carolinas, putting his technological training, computer savvy and quality assurance background to good use in such areas as corporate communications and campus security, and with the FirstNavistar project.
"I am happy to volunteer my time whenever I am available, because I enjoy giving back to the community," he says.
Completing the Harrell family is the couple's 13-year-old son, Brandon - "our pride and joy," his mother says. A student at West Pine Middle School, he has a variety of interests - golf, soccer, basketball, public speaking and debating, and playing the drums with the school band -that keep his parents on the go.
"He's still at the stage where he's very attentive to each of us," Dr. Harrell says.
Brenda Bouser works in the corporate communications office for FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
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