Renee Laurie spent her childhood growing up in rural east Tennessee. She developed a love of animals and hunting early on. Especially dogs. She was fascinated by their ability to hunt, point and retrieve. Today, she shares life with her husband Scott and their fur baby Gunnison, a Brittany spaniel in Bryan County.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Laurie took her liberal arts degree and began a professional career as the director of events at the City Club in Knoxville. While working in Tennessee, she met a man by the name of Scott, a tall, handsome golfer in town from Colorado.
The two quickly fell in love.
“He continued his projects, and I moved to Colorado Springs and began working for the Cheyanne Mountain Resort, which allowed me to still work in the events industry,” said Laurie.
On Sept. 11, 2017, the couple will celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary.
After working and living in Colorado for 10 years, Laurie admits she missed the South.
“Scott was celebrating a milestone birthday and he wanted to retire, teach golf, play more golf and fish,” she said. “We wanted to enjoy a place for winter and summer. We chose a community we felt comfortable going back and forth and knowing our homes would be safe. We wanted to have that country life but still live in a vibrant community.”
The couple bought a home on Belle Island Road in Richmond Hill and consider it one of the best decisions they ever made.
“It is remarkable,” said Laurie.
Laurie has worked with the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire and has served as chair for the events and fundraising committees for The Savannah Mile from 2007 to 2013, raising $100,000 annually. She also created a format for the annual “Community Hero’s Golf Tournament” and the Valor Awards.
Now her efforts are even closer to home here in Bryan County as she was recently named a new board member of the Bark Park, a 501c3 nonprofit. After leaving a familiar role in events, Laurie has spent the last few years in sales and is excited to use her expertise to aid the Bark Park in its future events and efforts to progress and maintain its mission started in 2012. For more on the Bark Park events, visit www.bryanbarkpark.com.
While her involvement with nonprofits and her career have been blessed, Laurie admits it is the acceptance and love of the community that have proven to be more than she ever expected. She and Scott were faced with one of the greatest challenges of their lives in 2005. Four months after his arrival, the two were headed back from dinner on Tybee Island when they were unexpectedly hit by a drunk driver.
This horrific accident left Laurie miraculously uninjured. But Scott faced a much different outcome with his neck broke in two places, a crushed pelvis and ribs, and a prognosis that did not look good.
They were told Scott would likely never walk again.
Despite the hardship and the difficult recovery, they were completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love that came from their community on Belle Island. It was a true testament to the heartbeat of this community, Laurie said.
“After being in the ICU for four weeks, I had an opportunity to take (Scott) to the Shephard Center in Atlanta. My neighbors, who I barely knew at the time looked after my dog, mowed my lawn and maintained my pool. I would come home once a week and my house was getting renovated while I was gone. They built a wheelchair ramp, our restroom had been renovated and was now handicap accessible, door openings were widened,” she said. “It has been 10 years and I still cannot believe the love that continues to pour out on us. I was working at the Westin during this time doing events. I had to leave Scott in Atlanta and I would go back and forth every week so I could still work. Every time I came back there was a modification to my house, it went on for six months.”
Eight months after the accident, Scott defied odds and walked. He is now back teaching golf and despite having some mobility issues, Laurie said he still strives to do the things he loves. The accident was unexpected and life altering, but Laurie said she and Scott believe they were meant to be right here wrapped in the love and care of such an amazing community.
“I am a far better human then I was prior to this accident. I was a good person and with a huge heart, but God blessed me in so many ways to show me what I was made of,” she said. “I also consider myself to be the luckiest girl in the world. This will always be my home, Scott and I will always find a way and manage to pay it forward in some way because of the care we received after the accident.”