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Since finding and rescuing a baby bald eagle that had fallen from its nest on their farm property, the Bickerstaffs of Columbus, Georgia, have had a passion for the rescue and rehabilitation program at the Southeastern Raptor Center at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Our love of Auburn goes even further back,” said Cathy Bickerstaff, whose husband, Rennie, is a 1970 alumnus of what is now Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.

“We have long been supporters of the business college and athletics,” Mrs. Bickerstaff said. “But ever since Andrew [Hopkins] came out and rescued that baby bald eagle, we have loved the Southeastern Raptor Center and supported it as well.”

In recognition and to show appreciation for their support, the Bickerstaffs were invited to assist with the pregame eagle flight to open Auburn’s 2017 football season against Georgia Southern.

“We really appreciate the support that the Bickerstaffs have provided to the center,” said Hopkins, a raptor specialist and trainer of the Auburn eagles. “Asking them to be a part of the eagle flight was our way of saying thank you.”

“We were thrilled to be asked to be invited to release Spirit prior to the Georgia Southern game,” Mrs. Bickerstaff said. “And we are so proud of the raptor program and of the wonderful veterinary college at Auburn for the work that they do and the recognition that they bring to Auburn.”

The Bickerstaffs also were the bidding winners of the jess and lure auction for that game.

“That added a permanent memento—along with the honor of participating in the eagle flight,” Mrs. Bickerstaff said.