On March 19, 2012, Father Ryan High School Principal Paul Davis and his wife Teresa got a phone call that no parents should ever have to receive. Their youngest son, 2009 Father Ryan alum Kevin Davis, had died in a moped accident while on a trip to Mexico.
In the months and years after his passing, the Catholic community in Nashville came together in a powerful way to support Paul, Teresa, and Kevin’s brother Philip as they endured the darkest time of their life. More than 1,000 people attended Kevin’s funeral, and countless others offered prayers, spiritual bouquets, food, sympathy cards, and anything else they could think of.
The Davises have done their best to give back to those who helped them in their time of need and honor Kevin’s memory. One reflection of that is their annual Raise Your Glass event.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m., the Davises will host their ninth annual Raise Your Glass on Father Ryan’s campus to support the Kevin Paul Davis Memorial Scholarship so Father Ryan students in need can continue their education at Father Ryan.
Mike and Barbara Barrett, friends of the Davises, hosted the first Raise Your Glass benefit at their home in 2013. “This was originally the Barrett family’s idea,” Mrs. Davis said. “They made everything happen for us that first year, and we’re continuing a tradition they started.”
Since 2013, the Davis family has awarded the scholarship to one or more students who exemplify characteristics of Kevin and need the money to continue their education at Father Ryan. Applicants must be rising seniors, have at least a 3.0 grade average, have participated in the Nashville diocese’s SEARCH and/or Youth Leadership Workshop programs, done service hours above and beyond what is expected of a Father Ryan student, and been active participants in their school and local communities.
Since Kevin is most remembered for his ability to live life to the fullest, applicants must also write a brief essay about their personal definitions of living life to the fullest. A committee of Kevin’s family and closest friends have a blind reading of the essays to select the scholarship winners.
Due to continued struggles with COVID-19, this year’s Raise Your Glass celebration will look different than ones from years past. Typically, it would begin with Mass in the school’s chapel, followed by a social hour in the dining hall with food and drinks provided by alumni-owned businesses.
It would end in the school’s courtyard with the release of sky lanterns, borrowed from the ancient Chinese custom to honor the dead. Before the lanterns are launched, the people at the event remember people within the Father Ryan community who have died within the past year.
This year, the Davises are remembering Louis Jarrell and Mark Simpson. The event will begin with Mass held outdoors in the school’s amphitheater, right outside the auditorium. Sky lanterns and prayer clouds will be released directly afterwards, with a social hour in the library to end the evening.
Mrs. Davis strongly encourages all who are interested to attend. “Join us as we remember all loved ones gone before us,” she said. “Everyone who wants to release a prayer cloud in memory of loved ones will be invited to do so following Mass. It is a powerful way to connect and feel their presence. All are welcome.
“We are grateful to be surrounded by a community whose love and prayers lift us up on this journey,” she added. “Together we can lift prayers for all those who walk with us in spirit. May all their souls rest in peace.”
For more information, contact Mrs. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.