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Wild West Benefit aims to round up funds for West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine student scholarships

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LEWISBURG, W.Va. – You can bet the ranch that the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Wild West Benefit will be an evening to remember.

The frontier-themed event, a fundraiser for student scholarships, will take place starting at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4, in the Conference Center in the WVSOM Student Center in Lewisburg. It will pay tribute to longtime faculty member and administrator Bob Foster, D.O., who retired this summer after 45 years of service to the medical school.

Foster, whose passion for helping students learn and ubiquitous cowboy hat made him an icon on WVSOM’s campus and in the community, served in multiple capacities since joining the school in 1978, including roles as associate dean for clinical education and, most recently, assistant dean for osteopathic medical education. A tireless advocate for osteopathic medicine, he is a devotee of the teachings of Andrew Taylor Still, D.O., M.D., the profession’s founder, and is outspoken in championing Still’s principles, such as the idea that the structure and function of body parts are interrelated.

Foster also was Greenbrier County’s medical examiner for 38 years and worked at the Greenbrier Manor nursing home, rural clinics in Williamsburg, W.Va., and Hillsboro, W.Va., as well as Alderson Maximum Security Federal Penitentiary for Women, West Virginia Maximum Security Prison for Women at Pence Springs and Anthony Correctional Center in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

During his time at WVSOM, Foster received three President’s Outstanding Faculty Awards.

James Nemitz

James W. Nemitz, Ph.D., WVSOM’s president, praised Foster for his dedication to health care education in West Virginia and said the benefit will allow the school to ease students’ financial burden.

“We are excited to honor our beloved colleague, Bob Foster, whose career has impacted an untold number of people in communities throughout West Virginia,” Nemitz said. “Our Wild West Benefit will raise much-needed dollars to help osteopathic medical students shoulder the cost of a medical education.”

It was Foster who originally helped establish the tradition of scholarship fundraisers at WVSOM. Under his leadership as faculty advisor to the school’s chapter of Sigma Sigma Phi, the national honorary osteopathic service fraternity, the first fundraiser was created as a way for WVSOM alumni and friends to support scholarships. The annual event later was operated by WVSOM’s Student Government Association and renamed the Grand Affair and, eventually, the WVSOM Gala.

Foster said he is thankful to be recognized and encourages businesses and individuals to play a role in making the Wild West Benefit a success.

“I can think of no greater honor than being celebrated, while still alive, to help WVSOM’s dedicated students reduce their indebtedness and be able to practice where their passion and their journey leads them,” he said. “Part of the school’s mission is to train physicians to practice in rural areas, and I hope people will support the Wild West Benefit so that WVSOM can make it easier for its students to succeed in becoming the next generation of health care providers.”

Western attire is encouraged, but not required, at the benefit, which will feature dinner, live music by the band Riverside Lights, dancing and a silent auction, among other activities.

To purchase tickets to the Wild West Benefit or to become a sponsor, visit www.wvsom.edu/benefit.

WVSOM is a national leader in educating osteopathic physicians for primary care medicine in rural areas. Visit WVSOM online at www.wvsom.edu.