John "Thunder" Thornton is a renowned land developer and fan of University of Tennessee athletics. This Saturday, he's going to blend those passions.
Thornton's Thunder Enterprises will host a special showcase of Jasper Highlands in Marion County that day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT. The event, which is open to members of the public who RSVP, will feature appearances by legendary former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt and Vols football coach Phillip Fulmer.
The ceremony, which will include music and some food, will serve as a way for Thornton to honor Summitt, the eight-time national champion coach who stepped down earlier this month after announcing last August she has early-onset dementia. The highest point of the mountain home to the Jasper Highland complex will be named Pat's Summitt, and Thornton said he's promised "a nice-sized check" to Summitt's foundation and the fight against Alzheumer's.
"I have always been such a huge admirer of Coach Summitt's, and anything we can do to help her and her foundation in the fight, we're proud to," said Thornton, whose name is on the UT academic center for athletes. "This is a win-win, and it's something Pat and [her son] Tyler and I discussed back in September. This was the date that worked for everyone."
It will be Coach Summitt's first area appearance since she was named head coach emeritus of the Lady Vols program that she raised to the pinnacle of women's college basketball in her record-setting 38-year career. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick was named as Summitt's successor.
"I can remember meeting Coach Summitt on a recruiting trip," former UT men's basketball standout and Thunder Enterprises president Dane Bradshaw said. "And that may have been the most nervous I have been. She is such a true champion.
"We are excited to have her at Jasper Highlands and to honor her."
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...