Let Me Play

Event History

Judy W. Rose Let Me Play Event Focuses on Women’s Athletics

Sixteen years ago, then Charlotte 49ers Director of Athletics Judy Rose had a brainstorm. A product of the opportunities that became available to women in athletics in the 1970's, Rose wanted to extend that support with the 49ers. With a wide array of influential female community and business leaders from which to pull, Rose sought a means to mobilize that talent in support of women’s athletics and at the same time begin sharing the 49ers' many success stories.

Intent on bringing people together for personal, first-hand interaction, Rose created the "Let Me Play" Luncheon, an annual fundraiser held in downtown Charlotte that today attracts over 400 of the most powerful women in the Charlotte area. The attendees have included the late Mariam Cannon Hayes, Dale Halton, Pat Rodgers, Lisa Lewis Dubois and Martha Woodward. Event chairs have included Halton, Rodgers, Mary Lou Babb, Betty Chafin Rash, Kelly Chopus and Felicia Hall Allen, Lisa Lewis Dubois and Samara Foxx, Ruth Shaw, Cathy Bessant, Laura Schulte, Laura Meyer Wellman, Theresa Drew, Lynn Good, Carol Lowe and Christine DeBiase. This year, Susan DeVore, President and CEO of Premier, will chair the event scheduled for October 31, 2019  The luncheon has also regularly featured current and former 49ers' student-athletes as featured speakers.

Guest speakers have included former women's basketball player Karen Popp (Class of '80), partner in the firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP and former women's basketball player Karen Shugart (Class of '83), who at the time was an Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protection Division of the U.S. Secret Service. Not surprisingly, both spoke of their school and their collegiate experience. They spoke of the fun they had and the long-standing relationships born as 49ers' student-athletes. And they spoke of the tools that participation in athletics provides: time management, teamwork, dedication, perseverance, self-confidence and determination. These tools played a key role in both charting and powering their futures. Other keynote speakers have included Laura Schulte, Cathy Bessant, Ruth Shaw, Amy Vance, Laura Meyer Wellman, Theresa Drew, Lynn Good and others.

The luncheon also includes comments from current 49er student-athletes, like track and field athletic and academic all-America Dr. Sharonda Johnson, who received a National Science Foundation Fellowship for her work with nanoparticles, academic all-America distance runner Cassie Ficken, two-time Athletic Director's Association Scholar-Athlete women's basketball team selection Sabrina Gregory, academic all-America Lindsey Ozimek from women’s soccer, women’s basketball standout Aysha Jones, WNBA Atlanta Dream player Shannon McCallum and others. The current athletes tend to speak with gratitude of the opportunities athletics has afforded them and how they, out of respect, work to take full advantage of those opportunities.

The 49ers have raised more than $2 million in the first 16 years of the event, with a record single-day total of over $214,000 in 2016. Just as important, however, is that current student-athletes are exposed to high-level professional women and, in turn, that high-level professional women are exposed to the type of bright, skilled, young women that are produced, in part, by participation in the Charlotte 49ers athletic program.

This year, the 17th Annual "Let Me Play" Luncheon will be held April 6, 2022 at The Charlotte Convention Center. For more information, please contact the Charlotte 49ers Athletic Foundation at (704) 687-4950. Registrations can be made online at ww.letmeplaycharlotte.com. There is no cost to attend this fundraising event but a donation at the conclusion of the event is greatly appreciated.