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Luray Caverns $25,000 Contribution

Since 1954, visitors have tossed 16.5 million coins weighing over 62 tons into the Luray Caverns Wishing Well, a large subterranean pool of water over six feet deep. Once a year the coins are removed, cleaned and deposited in a special bank account for future distribution to charitable organizations. Through the Luray Caverns Wishing Well, generous visitors have provided more than $400,000, which has been donated to various notable organizations. This year John Shaffer, Director of Marketing and Sales for Luray Caverns will present the National Tourism Foundation with $25,000 from the wishing well for the Luray Caverns Graduate Research Grant Fund. Shaffer states, “This third contribution for the Luray Caverns Graduate Grant, I feel, is indicative of the value our committee places on the mission of the National Tourism Foundation.” The Luray Caverns established the Luray Caverns Graduate Research Grant in 1988. The purpose of the grant is to defray the educational cost incurred by a student conducting research on a thesis, dissertation or terminal project relating to travel and tourism. For instance the 1998 winner, Kevin William Larkin researched and wrote a thesis entitled “Using Environmental Beliefs and Attitudes of Rural Community Hosts and Guests to Establish Sustainable Tourism Development”. The winner of the 2001 Luray Caverns Research Grant is Careen Mackay Yarnal. She will be researching and writing her thesis on “Group Tours and Repeat Behavior: A Case Study from Cruise Tourism.” Yarnal is working toward her Ph.D. in Leisure Studies at Penn State University. With her course work expected to be complete in the spring of 2002, she plans to graduate in the spring of 2003. “I was fortunate to be introduced to the joys of travel at an early age.” She said, “My enthusiasm for travel and tourism remains undiminished and as learning and education tools, I consider them un-matched. To have the opportunity to broaden my horizons and perhaps contribute to the development of the travel and tourism industry is a dream come true.” She goes on to say that, “Receiving the Luray Caverns Research Grant is an honor and I am grateful to the National Tourism Foundation and Luray Caverns for recognizing and promoting research as an essential aspect of the travel and tourism industry.