Alan Page, who used football at the college and professional levels as a vehicle to the law career he wanted, will keynote the fourth Opportunities for Education fund-raiser on Monday, May 19. Sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation to raise scholarship dollars and underwritten by National City Bank, the banquet featuring the former All-American from Notre Dame and National Football League Hall of Famer will begin at 6 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites in downtown Kalamazoo.
Page, 62, made the complete circuit as a football player. The 1964 graduate of Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio, went on to gridiron glory at Notre Dame, and then played defensive end for 15 years in the National Football League, primarily as a member of the Minnesota Vikings’ famous “Purple People Eaters.” He was inducted in 1988 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is located in Canton.
Page, the father of four, majored in political science at Notre Dame from which he graduated in 1966. His Fighting Irish team won the national championship his senior year, which merited Page being the Vikings’ No. 1 draft pick that year.
As he carved out a career as one of the NFL’s greatest defensive players, Page continued his studies and earned a degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978. After five years of private practice and during which he wrapped up his football career as a member of the Chicago Bears, Page became an assistant attorney general in Minnesota.
In 1992, Page was elected as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was re-elected to six-year terms in 1998 and 2004. In the latter election, Page attracted the most votes of any candidate in the state’s history. Justice Byron White of the U. S. Supreme Court and Page, a nine-time All-Pro selection, share the distinction of being the only notable football players in the nation’s history to serve on high courts of the land.
Instead of using brute strength to overpower opponents that is generally the case these days, Page used his quickness and agility to beat blocks and make tackles. He registered nearly 150 “sacks” (tackling the quarterback attempting to pass) in his NFL career. In 1971, he was the second defensive player in league history to be named its Most Valuable Player
Page, who is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame located in South Bend, served as the Vikings’ representative for the National Football League Players Association. In 1999, he was No. 34 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
An example of his athletic endurance is the fact that in 1979 Page became the first active NFL player to complete a marathon. His best time was 3 hours and 27 minutes. Because of his long-distance running, Page played the toughest position in professional football at 225 pounds.
Page and his wife, Diane, established the Page Education Foundation that assists minority students in their pursuits of a college education. He has expressed an interest to teaching in a public school for a few years once he leaves the bench.
In speaking about the challenges facing children in the 21st century, Page flashes back to the paths he took to achieve success and the difficult decisions he had to make to stay on those paths when there were easier ways to travel.
Keenly interested in American youth, Page conveys a philosophy �" one that he lives �" that sports are not the end of the journey. They are the means to reach that end.
“Athletics can help you,” he says, “if they are used in the right way. If used in the right way, they can help in academic pursuits.”
The Pages use their foundation for their own version of “No Child Left Behind,” urging young people to be as passionate about their education as they are about sports. Because too many don’t understand that message, the foundation stresses mentoring roles. The foundation has awarded more than $5 million in scholarship assistance to 2,600 students.
Page thinks of football as a good chapter in his life, but a past chapter. “If I could choose a way to be remembered, it wouldn’t be my association with football. It is the past, and a good past, but I’d want to be remembered with children �" my children and other children.”
The KVCC Foundation was formed in 1980 and has accumulated nearly $10 million in assets. Its mission is to enhance educational opportunities and the learning environment at the college by supporting the academic, literary and scientific activities of KVCC students and faculty. Its assists the college’s Honors Program, minority enrollees and non-traditional students through scholarships and awards grants that promote innovative approaches to learning.
“Because KVCC’s tuition is the lowest among the state’s 28 community colleges and fees are practically non-existent,” said Steve Doherty, executive director of the KVCC Foundation, “scholarship dollars take students a very, very long way toward their goals. We want to help even more in the coming years, now that state and federal sources of scholarships are either drying up or are in jeopardy because of budget cuts.”
In the just completed fall-semester of 2007, the foundation was able to assist 212 students. For the 2007-08 academic year, scholarship and grant assistance should reach nearly $350,000 for tuition, fees, books and supplies, as well as for the child-care and transportation costs that students face in pursuing a degree or a new career.
“That represents a minimal fraction of the dollar value of scholarships that are available through the KVCC Office of Financial Aid,” Doherty said. “That type of assistance has federal and state sources that carry restrictions. So do some of those scholarships established by organizations or individuals. And all of those are very important.
“Ours, however, are more open-ended, less restrictive, and available to a broader representation of students who choose to attend KVCC,” Doherty said. “They are what our ‘Opportunities for Education’ event is all about.”
While the unprecedented, nationally recognized gift to this community that is The Kalamazoo Promise is a blessing to families living in the Kalamazoo Public Schools district, Doherty said, during a typical semester no more than 15 percent of KVCC’s enrollment are Kalamazoo graduates. That means a large segment of the other 85 percent still need various levels of scholarship assistance.
For more information about the fund-raiser, about how far scholarship dollars go at KVCC, and about tickets for spending an evening with one of the greatest scholar-athletes in U. S. history, contact Doherty at (269) 488-4442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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To arrange for a pre-event interview with Alan Page, contact Steve Doherty, executive director of the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation, at (269) 488-4442 or at email@example.com.
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