Beaufort News

TCL president hopes to be the next pig-kisser in fundraising contest

It might not sound like much of a prize -- the winner has to smooch a pig -- but Technical College of the Lowcountry president Thomas Leitzel hopes to bring home more of the bacon than his competitors in the American Diabetes Association's Kiss-a-Pig Campaign.

Leitzel will represent Beaufort County in this year's event, in which he pledges to raise cash for the organization.

The Kiss-a-Pig campaign, a regional fundraising contest between community leaders in South Carolina and southeast Georgia, got under way Thursday in Savannah.

"I talked to some of our health science faculty about the concept, and one of our longtime faculty members looked at me and said, 'Tom, I have diabetes,' " Leitzel said. "That was the convincer. I thought, 'I'm going to do it for you.' "

Beaufort County representatives have won each of the past two competitions.

In 2009, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling went on a weight-loss program and got pledges for every pound lost. He dropped more than 50 pounds and raised $27,000.

Rick Toomey,Beaufort Memorial Hospital CEO, won last year by raising $21,000.

Leitzel will go up against about 12 other competitors, including Hardeeville city manager Ted Felder, who will represent Jasper County, according to the release.

Leitzel said he hasn't set a fundraising goal yet and plans to ask TCL students, faculty and staff to help him determine his fitness goal.

"It's such a worthy cause," Leitzel said.