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Tate Rice: Clemmons native recalls community’s outpouring of love in family’s need

By Mandy Haggerson

Clemmons native, Tate Rice, met his future wife, Anna, when she was his next-door neighbor at North Carolina State University. Anna’s roommate suggested that she invite Tate to their Zeta Tau Alpha’s sorority’s “Stranger Mixer.” “Tate wasn’t really a stranger since I had seen him around my apartment complex,” smiles Anna.

Little did either Tate or Anna know, that sorority event would be the twist of fate that would bring them together to start a family and impact their community. Anna completed her bachelor of arts degree in communications. Tate earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, Anna remained in Raleigh to pursue a career in broadcasting. Tate’s path initially took him to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to start working for an engineering firm.

Two years later, they both made the move to Charlotte together where they resided for several years. In 1999, Anna was working at Cox Enterprises, when she and Tate decided that he would open his own business. “Tate knew he wanted to own his own business and be an architect,” Anna notes. He had experience doing that line of work, and thought that the timing was right to start Tate Rice Homes, LLC. The Rice Family moved back to Salem Glen in 2002 with their first child, Will.

They added a sibling for Will 2 years later when Sally was born. The Rice Family did not know during Anna’s pregnancy that Sally was going to be born with Down syndrome. They also did not know Sally would be born with life threatening issues. “Sally was rushed into surgery the day she was born for her first of 20-plus surgeries,” Anna recalls. “We were not able to take her home with us.

Sally had to remain in the hospital for the first 5 months.” Despite this life altering experience, Anna is quick to show gratitude to the Clemmons community. “The Clemmons community reached out to us in every way to make life as easy as it could be, especially, the friends we had made at Clemmons Methodist.” Sally was released to go home with her family, although she remained critically ill for the first year of her life and then considered chronically ill. “Life was scary. Sally had to be fed intravenously.

She was in and out of the hospital for infections too. We didn’t have a real pattern for the first year,” Anna remembers. Anna took leave from her job during that time to care for Sally and keep Will’s schedule as normal as possible. While the Rice Family re-entered Brenners Children’s Hospital frequently, they quickly learned how many other families there were in great need. “There were people at Brenners who weren’t able to be with their children because of financial reasons.

They had to work. It’s not like it just happened then. It’s happening now,” Anna explains. Anna and Tate felt compelled to act. While they were dealing with their “new normal” with regard to Sally’s health, they were devastated to think that other parents had the burden of finances impacting the time they needed to spend focusing on comforting their sick child while in the hospital. In 2006, Anna and Tate founded Sally’s Angels to help subsidize the limited resources for familys with children in Brenners. Sally’s Angels is a non-profit named after the Rice’s daughter. “Initially, my goal was to raise $5,000 annually,” Anna mentions.

However, support was so overwhelming within the community, they now boast a fundraising effort of over $350,000 annually. Sally’s Angels just held their big event, “Lemonade on the Lawn” on August 30th to raise funds for the families of critically and chronically ill children for both essential and non-essential support. A year after the Sally’s Angel’s was founded; the Rice Family welcomed their third child, daughter, Gigi. The close family of 5 can be found in the community participating in various activities.

Tate brushed up on his former West Forsyth Titan baseball skills by coaching son, Will’s Southwest baseball team since he was 4 years old. It has been a successful run, which has included multiple district and state championships. Tate also played for Southwest as a young kid himself. As Anna jokes, “Will likes to play anything with a ball.”

Sally can be found riding horses at Riverwood Therapeutic Riding Center and swimming. And little sister Gigi shares a love for swimming and dance. As E. E. Hale said, “Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand.” Our neighbors did just that when adversity was put in their path.

“Your Neighbor” is a feature by Jill Osborn. If you have a neighbor everybody should know, reach Jill at jill.n.osborn@gmail.com. Also follow her blog on parenting at MuchAdoAboutMothering.com/