The Forrest Firm’s Aaron Gard is a man who wears many hats: attorney, fundraiser, entrepreneur. Now, under the pen name “Kitty Dogwood,” Gard has put on yet another hat, that of a children’s author. Lessons from Roy is dedicated to Carolina fans age 1 to 100 and celebrates the life of Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.
“I come from a proud Carolina family,” said Gard, an attorney at the Forrest Firm since 2016. “I’m the middle of three brothers, and we all attended UNC. My parents even served as Co-Presidents of the Carolina Parents Council for several years. I love Carolina, and I love college athletics. At a time when so many people are focused on the negative aspects of college sports, and the NCAA seeks to maintain control of its billion dollar pie, I wanted to remind folks about the positive impact college athletics can have on children. Chapel Hill’s an amazing place, and Carolina fans are the best in the world. I simply wanted to encourage the next generation of Carolina fans to follow their own path to Chapel Hill, and I wanted to honor Coach Williams at the same time.”
Gard, who played varsity soccer at UNC in the late 1990s, made lifelong friends and memories through athletics, and learned valuable lessons that have served him well in his personal and professional life. “Some of the best role models I know are college coaches in Chapel Hill,” he explained. “Roy Williams, Sylvia Hatchell, Anson Dorrance and Karen Shelton, for example, are all legendary coaches right here in our backyard. They not only define excellence for their respective sports, but serve as positive influences for kids and young adults at an important time in their lives. And, for those who pay attention, their lessons will remain with them long after their playing days are over.”
“Role models like Roy Williams have their own stories to tell, and it’s important for children to understand that Coach Williams wasn’t born a Hall of Famer,” he continued. “It takes a lifetime of hard work, help from others, and doing the right things to become the best. While there are plenty of books written about Roy intended for adults, there are few that can be used to inspire future Tar Heels and simultaneously provide an important history lesson. Lessons from Roy does both, following Roy from his childhood home in western North Carolina, to his college days at UNC, and eventually to the helm of the greatest basketball program in the land.”
Gard has been pleased with the book’s initial reception. “The positive feedback I’ve received has been overwhelming,” said Gard. “Carolina fans across the country have purchased the book on Amazon, and it’s sold out in stores across the state. Kelly Fish is the amazing illustrator who captured the essence of what Carolina basketball is all about, Roy’s journey to Chapel Hill, and what it means to be part of the Carolina Family.”
Early in the publishing process, Gard decided that he wanted to dedicate a portion of the proceeds to support children and certain non-profits. He’s collaborating with others to make that happen. As for Kitty Dogwood, he said, “She’s hanging with her pals Franklin and Rosemary, and cheering on the Tar Heels this March. GO HEELS!!”