‘The Rookie’s’ pitch was a record-setter
When it came to making an entertaining pitch about life’s lessons and about the power of striving for dreams, former Major League hurler Jim Morris was no rookie at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Foundation’s sixth annual Opportunities for Education (OFE) fund-raiser on May 12.
The banquet at the Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites in downtown Kalamazoo attracted a record-setting audience of 330, topping by three the turnout that came to hear Stryker Corp.’s John Brown in 2006 talk about how to succeed in business by really trying.
While dollars and pledges still coming in, the fund-raiser grossed $51,836 compared to the $40,000 at the Brown event.
Prime sponsor PNC bank purchased 50 tickets to the event that were distributed by Kalamazoo Community in Schools to achieving students and their parents. Prior to the banquet, they were given tours of the Center for New Media and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
The KVCC Foundation was formed in 1980 and has accumulated $8.6 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 students through scholarships, and awards grants that promote innovative approaches to learning.
The foundation funds the college’s internship program, and supports such initiatives at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum as the Mary Jane Stryker Theater programming, the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, special exhibits, and the “Friday Night Highlights” series of concerts and movies.
Co-sponsoring the event along with PNC and the foundation are AM 590 WKZO, the Radisson, and Paw Paw Wine Distributors.
The foundation also arranged for residents of the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home to experience the presentation.
This “provided them an experience they would have never had,” commented Superintendent Frank Weichlein, “and one they certainly will never forget. Beyond the message that Mr. Morris conveyed about never abandoning your dreams, the exposure these kids had to such a community event was educational in itself. These are kids who, in many instances, feel they are not part of their community. Reaching out to them as you did lets them know there are caring adults who want to include them in our community, not exclude them from it.”
The youths expressed the same sentiments.
“This is something that I never experienced before and will remember for a long time.”
“The Jim Morris speech was inspiring. It showed you can do what you put your mind to and to not give up. This is what I’m trying to do.”
“No one can tell you what you can’t do. You can do anything, and then show people who doubted you that you can make it.”