logo L O A D I N G

January 27, 2023

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.—Leadership Grand Strand (LGS) Class 43 is pleased to announce that William “Billy” Nichols IV of Murrells Inlet is the recipient of the organization’s Ann DeBock Leadership Award. Nichols and his wife, Kelsey, are the founders of the Annie Banannie Foundation, which supports traumatic brain injury (TBI) research at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Billy NicholsEach year, the recognition is given to an LGS graduate who exhibits outstanding leadership and service to their community.

“While we had incredible nominees put forth for this award, Billy truly stood out for the many contributions he has made to our community, including creating a foundation to support research for brain injuries,” said LGS Executive Director Diana Greene.

In 2017, the Nichols formed the Annie Banannie Foundation after their four-year-old daughter suffered a head injury while playing in the family’s garage. Thanks to quick-acting medical staff, an unresponsive Annie was airlifted to MUSC where a craniotomy saved her life. Through the harrowing experience, Nichols remained confident in his daughter’s recovery and was inspired to help others facing similar experiences.

Dr. Ramin Eskandari, Chief, Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at MUSC, credits the Annie Banannie Foundation for his team’s vast progress in researching pediatric traumatic brain injuries. To date, the foundation has raised over $360,000 for TBI research.

“As for Annie’s accident, I think LGS helped me tremendously with my time management skills. Having a child in the hospital for 34 days took a toll on our family and work life. Luckily, I was able to travel back and forth to the hospital between working and taking care of our 18-month-old son while my wife stayed with Annie the entire time she was in the hospital,” Nichols said.

Along with the foundation, Nichols supports his community through leadership roles within the Murrells Inlet Rotary Club, the Belin Memorial United Methodist Church and other local organizations.

The Ann DeBock Leadership Award was commissioned and started by LGS Class 19 in memory of Ann DeBock, the program’s first executive director from 1979 to 1998. During an award ceremony to be held on Jan. 27, 2023, three finalists will also receive recognition: Juliet Casper, partner in the law firm of Roy & Casper LLC, Freda Funnye of  the United Way of Horry County, and Jason Greene of Habitat for Humanity of Horry County.

For more information on LGS, visit LeadershipGrandStrand.com. For more information about the Annie Banannie Foundation, visit Facebook.com/TheAnnieBanannieFoundation or Instagram.com/TheAnnieBanannieFoundation.

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About Leadership Grand Strand:

Leadership Grand Strand is a nine-month program sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce that provides a broad curriculum designed to develop a corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals capable of providing dynamic leadership. Over the years, Leadership Grand Strand has created a cadre of leaders who guide the direction of change throughout the Grand Strand.

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