The INSPIRE festival was created to honor the life and legacy of Roger
and Deane Ackerman. Roger practiced service above self for many
years as a Rotarian, philanthropist, humanitarian, and supporter of the
The INSPIRE Festival was held April 4 – 7 in Sumter. In its’ inaugural year, the festival donated $24,000 of its proceeds equally to four organizations that were near and dear to Roger. Those were the CART Fund, Sumter County Art Gallery, Sumter County Museum, and Sumter Little Theatre.
Roger Ackerman was an active member of Rotary for more 50 years and
served the Sumter Rotary Club as president in 1978-79. He was
recognized by his club as Rotarian of the Year in 1982 and 2017. He had
the distinction of being named District 7770 Rotarian of the Year in
three different decades, probably the only Rotarian ever to be so
honored. In 1997, he received Rotary International’s Distinguished
Service Award; and in 2006 he was recipient of the Service Above Self
Award, the highest honor given to an individual Rotarian by Rotary
Roger was most appreciative that his fellow Rotarians recognized him
as being the founder of The CART Fund (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research
Trust) which has raised millions of dollars for Alzheimer’s research. In
over 20 years he was the guest speaker more than 200 times at Rotary
club functions in the Carolinas, Georgia, and other states promoting
The CART Fund. He worked tirelessly on all aspects of the Fund. Under
his leadership, The CART Fund won the Angel Award, established by the
South Carolina Secretary of State, for charities that give a high
percentage of the funds they raise to the cause for which they were
established. The CART Fund was cited for giving 100% of all
contributions to research. This past year CART awarded $1,000,000 in
grants, bringing the total awarded over the years to $8.2 Million.
In 2008 Roger was the recipient of The Order of the Palmetto; South
Carolina’s highest award given to an individual for excellence in service.
Roger was an inspiration to everyone who knew him, hence the name of the festival in his memory, “INSPIRE.” Plans are already underway now for next years’ event, which will be even bigger and better, to be held March 27 – April 5, 2020. You can learn more about the INSPIRE! Festival by going to www.sumterinspirefestival.org .