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Pay It Forward—The Fitzgeralds' Story

Fitzgerald FamilyA.G. Freed and N.B. Hardeman lived out the idea of "paying it forward." One example occurred in 1907, when construction of the Old Main Administration Building was in danger of stalling. Freed and Hardeman pledged their own money and credit to complete construction and guarantee the mortgage.

Throughout FHU's 150-year history, donors consistently have played an important role in the lives of students. Freed-Hardeman would not have survived the early 1900s without the generosity of those who believed in the quality of instruction at the school in Henderson, Tennessee. Even today, there are those whose enrollment at Freed-Hardeman is possible only because of the dedicated donors who provide scholarships.

FHU is honored to highlight a family who continues to impact students through their generosity—the Fitzgerald family.

Old Time Photo of BuildingJason and Tracy Fitzgerald co-own and operate Arrowhead Campers in Mayfield, Kentucky, with Jason's sister, Teresa Herndon, and her husband, Andrew. Murrell and Carolyn Fitzgerald, Jason's parents, opened the business in 1972. From an early age, Jason witnessed his parents' examples of supporting worthy causes, as they donated to Freed-Hardeman, and Carolyn served as an associate during the 1970s and 1980s. After Carolyn passed away in November 2006, Murrell continued to support the work of Christian education at Freed-Hardeman.

Jason sums up what made Murrell so generous in his giving, as he said, "He grew up hard. He knew what it was like to grow up with nothing. My parents would rather give and have nothing." When Murrell Fitzgerald passed away, he expected that his children would continue giving because he had taught them responsible stewardship. Murrell believed everything he had belonged to God and that he was only a steward of those blessings.

Fitzgerald Family"Both of our children were blessed with nearly free tuition to their colleges, and we feel obliged to give back to FHU and let other children have a chance to receive a great Christian education," Jason said. While neither of Jason and Tracy's children attended Freed-Hardeman, they are firm advocates for FHU. Collin Fitzgerald, their son, received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2015. He has since encouraged the youth at Northside Church of Christ—where he and his family attend worship—to further their education at Freed-Hardeman or other Christian universities due to the great Christian environment. Jason and Tracy's daughter, Torie Fitzgerald, received a B.B.A. in management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from Harding University.

The Fitzgeralds have a close tie to FHU through their daughter-in-law, Audreanna West Fitzgerald. Audreanna graduated from Freed-Hardeman in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in child and family services. Jason and Tracy were impressed with Audreanna and the education she received at FHU.

Jason and Tracy have established the Jason and Tracy Fitzgerald Endowed Scholarship at Freed-Hardeman, focused on helping students who are members of the Churches of Christ in Graves County, Kentucky. Their goal is to make it possible for more students to receive a Freed-Hardeman education.

The Fitzgeralds' initial goal is to get the scholarship's endowment level to $100,000, although Jason said he has no plans of stopping at a certain number. They want to benefit as many students as possible. "Once we reach $100,000, we'll see where we can go from there," he says.

Their generosity extends beyond the scholarship. Jason and Tracy often hire teens from the Northside Church of Christ who need a job during the summer. Even though they are giving the youth a job, they still excuse them from work in order to go on various youth trips, engage in church activities or attend church camps. The Fitzgeralds have spent their lives being stewards to the Lord and truly expressing a Christ-like mindset in paying it forward to help others.

"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…" (Matthew 6:20)

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Freed-Hardeman University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Freed-Hardeman University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 158 E. Main Street, Henderson, TN 38340, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to FHU or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to FHU as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to FHU as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and FHU where you agree to make a gift to FHU and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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