by Andre Mitchell
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
A breakfast of fried chicken, waffles, eggs and juice mixed with a guest appearance by Quincy Pondexter of the Memphis Grizzlies and spiced by a verbal challenge from Elliot Perry helped make for a hearty case of outreach at the annual Celebrity Sports Breakfast last Saturday (Aug. 25).
This year's annual sports breakfast was held on the campus of The LeMoyne-Owen College (LOC) in the newly renamed Bruce Hall/Jerry C. Johnson Gymnasium. As usual, it was a key element of the 2012 Hank Aaron Celebrity Sports weekend, benefiting the United Negro College Fund and the college.
Radio personality, Stan Bell, served as emcee, the Rev. Melvin Watkins delivered the invitation, and LOC President Johnnie B. Watson gave the greeting, with a performance by Watoto de Afrika and a word of thanks from Robert 'Bob' Simpson, the 2012 steering committee chair.
Perry, a Memphis High School legend, University of Memphis standout and NBA veteran filled the host role with ease and determination. He spoke with The New Tri-State Defender about the opportunity.
Tri-State Defender: How long have you been involved with the Hank Aaron Celebrity Sports Weekend event?
Elliot Perry: I believe this is my eighth year being involved with the event. It has been a joy to watch the entire Celebrity Sports Weekend event grow bigger and better each year.
TSD: What's what makes this event special?
EP: There are several reasons that help make this event special. To see all the support of those involved in helping to expand the event, the companies, the Memphis community, LeMoyne-Owen College, the history of the Negro Leagues and especially the parents and kids who come out to participate year after year are simply wonderful.
Seemingly, each year it grows bigger and better. This year the 5K race/walk had over 300 participants, the golf tournament is a huge draw and of course the Black Tie Gala helps to bring in financial contributions that LeMoyne-Owen College and the United Negro College Fund can use to help their students, who may not be students otherwise.
TSD: What do you hope young people gain most by attending the breakfast?
EP: I hope that they are challenged by the words of encouragement from ordinary, everyday people, who have been able to accomplish some extra ordinary goals in school, in sports, in business and in life period. I want young people to realize and know that it all starts with them. First, get your education, because knowledge is power; the more you know, the more opportunities you'll have.
Also, never let anyone drown out the inner voice. Most kids already know what they want to be when their young, but their dreams must be encouraged and not discouraged. But, there's also two parts to that piece. The other part is that our young people have to be willing to work hard to meet the challenge of their dreams. All the highly successful people I know – and you can think of – had to work hard to get where they are. No successful person is exempt from working hard.
TSD: What words of encouragement do you have for those youngsters who weren't able to attend, but might be aspiring student-athletes?
EP: Try to learn from those who have come before you, like so many great leaders, men and women, here at LeMoyne-Owen College, the city of Memphis, etc. We tend to learn best from those who have come before us.
Also, I want to encourage young people to take time to enjoy the process of getting better, stronger, smarter, because it takes time. You can't be LeBron, Kobe, Jordan...Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, etc., over night. They all had to work hard and it took time to get where they are in life. So I stress to young people, continue to work hard and enjoy the process!