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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 10/18/2007 - Legendary Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson has accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker for the 2008 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Scholarship Dinner Jan. 22 at UCM.
Annual Event Provides Scholarship Funding
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration is a collaborative effort between the Warrensburg community and the university. Last year approximately $10,000 was raised through corporate donations and tickets sales for scholarships benefiting UCM students and high school students from UCM's recruitment areas, including the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.
Appearance Sponsored by Sodexho
Johnson’s visit is made possible through the corporate sponsorship of Sodexho, the university’s dining services provider, in cooperation with Jesus “Sonny “Castro, UCM’s chief diversity officer.
“Our sponsorship of this event is a great fit as, at Sodexho, we believe diversity is a business imperative and ethical and social responsibility is grounded in our core values of team spirit and the spirit of service and progress,” said Mike DeVries, Sodexho general manager.
Enhancing the University's Diversity Awareness
University President Aaron Podolefsky announced Johnson as the Freedom Scholarship Dinner’s guest speaker saying, “This is going to be a wonderful event. We are committed to all activities that enhance diversity awareness and make education more affordable for our students. We are very grateful to Sodexho and Magic Johnson for helping to make this year’s event a very special experience.”
Variety of Activities Take Place
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration honors the memory of King through activities that take place over a two- to three-week period on campus and in the local community. Information about dinner tickets will be released at a future date, as well as details about other celebration events. In addition to the dinner, the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center annually hosts a Community Service Awards program.
Outstanding Career in Professional Sports
Johnson was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his accomplishments during the 13 years he spent with the LA Lakers. He signed with the team in 1979 and went on to become a member of five championship teams, with honors including. being a three-time recipient of both the Most Valuable Player Award and the Finals MVP Award, 12-time All-Star, and nine-time member of the All-NBA First Team.
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
More recently, Johnson has played the role of entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, an organization which has invested in inner-city neighborhoods to bring shops and services found in more affluent areas. He also established the Magic Johnson Foundation which has raised more than $20 million for charity, including efforts aimed at breast cancer awareness, scholarships for minority students, asthma education, muscular dystrophy, and AIDS-related projects, just to name a few.