Dr. Richard E. Lapchick delivers a message of hope and unity during Y’s 26th Annual Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Prayer Breakfast commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speaking to a capacity audience of more than 1,000 guests, Dr. Richard E. Lapchick, an internationally recognized human rights activist, shared a message of hope and unity during the YMCA’s 26th Annual Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Prayer Breakfast.
As the largest community-wide gathering of its kind, the event honors the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy, Orlando’s first African-American elected official. It also supports the YMCA of Central Florida’s Christian-based mission to improve lives and strengthen communities.
As keynote speaker, Lapchick shared his experiences in growing up as the son of legendary New York Knicks Coach Joe Lapchick, who signed the NBA’s first African-American player. The resulting hostility experienced by his family shaped the course of his life, Lapchick said, prompting him to become a vocal opponent of South African apartheid and all inequality.
As Chair of the UCF DeVos Sport Management Program, Lapchick encourages graduates to use sports as a vehicle for improving lives and understanding. It’s also a message he has shared with Congress, the United Nations, the European Parliament and the Vatican, as well as on ESPN and within 16 books he has authored.
“When you think of that miracle of sports – the huddle – there’s nothing else like it. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you can’t win unless everyone pulls together. If we could bring that lesson into our businesses, institutions and everyday lives, imagine the world we could have.”
Lapchick, who serves on the YMCA Metro Board, praised the Y’s role in nurturing values and acceptance among young people. “The YMCA stands up for everybody,” he said. “It also brings together volunteers and mentors who give hope and safe haven to youth who don’t always have much to hold on to.”
The event’s other speakers included Dan Wilcox, YMCA President/CEO; Congresswoman Val Butler Demings; Orlando Police Chief John Mina and Fire Chief Roderick Williams; Michael Bruce Kennedy, eldest grandson of Pappy Kennedy; Derek Lewis, Senior Vice President & General Manager for Pepsi North America Field Operations; Marcus Riggins, President of the Southwest Orlando Jaycees; Dr. Bridgett Williams, Chief of Staff to Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools; and Orlando City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings received the Southwest Orlando Jaycees Lifetime Achievement Award. The Jaycees, along with the City of Orlando’s MLK Commission co-sponsored the event, with Pepsi serving as the presenting sponsor.
One thousand dollar college scholarships were presented to six outstanding high school students. Their names, high schools and scholarship sponsors include:
- Jai Brown, Crooms Academy; sponsored by Jennifer Roe of Jennifer Sutton Roe Designs
- Sydney A. Capers, Dr. Phillips High School; sponsored by Florida Hospital
- Anasia Clayton, Windermere Preparatory School; sponsored by the Southwest Orlando Jaycees
- Miranda Kagolanu, Lake Howell High School; sponsored by SunTrust Banks
- Akylah Cox, Dr. Phillips High School; recipient of the Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Founders Scholarship;Sponsored by Homer Hartage & The Family Foundation
- Elijah Williams, Edgewater High School; recipient of the Kennedy Family Scholarship, sponsored by The Kennedy Family