On May 13, sponsors, fans, and friends of U.S. Dream Academy gathered at the Washington Hilton to celebrate high achievement and perseverance at the 14th Annual Power of a Dream Gala. This year's event, "Score For Dreams", was bursting with energy (many guests wore athletic shoes!), amazing entertainment, poignant moments, and heartfelt speeches of gratitude and awe. It was a night to remember for years to come!
Kicking off the evening, the VIP reception for special guests and sponsors featured the opportunity to meet Olivia McMillan, Miss America's Outstanding Teen, and pose for sponsor photos with U.S. Dream Academy founder Wintley Phipps.
As each guest arrived for the gala, they received gift bags brimming with exclusive products offered by Amway. Following the theme for the night, each gala sponsor's table showcased customized athletic shoes in honor of their sponsorship and the theme, "Go the distance – persevere".
Malik Yoba, American actor and emcee for the evening, added flair as he introduced entertainers and welcomed honorees. Malik Yoba is known for his starring role as a NYPD detective on the FOX drama, New York Undercover and as Yul Brenner in Cool Runnings.
Before enjoying a lavish dinner, guests were treated to a delightful performance by the DreamKids of "I Am" and then, with Wintley Phipps, the familiar favorite, "Kum Ba Yah". While guestsdined, Olivia McMillan and The Savoy Ellingtons provided musical entertainment.
Eloquently expressing his experience with and his gratitude for the ongoing guidance of the U.S. Dream Academy, Kendall Tidwell, keynote speaker, captivated the audience with his inspiring story emphasizing the importance of learning to forgive. His grandmother enrolled him in the Academy in fifth grade, and with the help of his mentor and the Academy staff, he learned to cope with the challenges he faced in his young life -- the incarceration of his parents, foster care, and uncertainty about his place in the world. As a high school student, Kendall has been an advocate for mentoring children of incarcerated parents. Today, he is a proud member of the graduating class of KIPP Sunnyside High School in Houston, Texas and plans to attend Lamar University.
In keeping with the annual tradition of U.S. Dream Academy's gala, several outstanding citizens were honored for their remarkable achievements and incredible perseverance in life.
Recognizing a mentor who goes above and beyond in his/her roleis important to the Academy and their sponsors. This year's award honored Charlene Anderson as Southwest Airlines' Mentor Of The Year.
The prestigious Legacy Award was presented to Herbert Douglas, Jr., founder of the International Amateur Athletic Association. He helped integrate the University of Pittsburgh athletic program and is the oldest living black Olympic medalist.
Three incredible leaders were recognized as President's Award recipients, including Crown Jody Victor, Chair of IBOAI® Governance & Oversight, and President and CEO of MarkerNET, Inc. Today, his business operates in 102 countries around the world. Also receiving this prestigious award were Jonathan D. Mariner, recently appointed by new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to serve as Chief Investment Officer of Major League Baseball, and Dr. EdwinMoses, a former track and field athlete, who won gold medals at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics. In 2000, Dr. Moses waselected the first Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an international service organization of world-class athletes promoting sports as a tool for social change.
Regina Belle, an American singer/songwriter, completed the evening with a fabulous song.
Attendees agreed; this year's gala scored high in every aspect -- incredible entertainment, festive decorations, delicious cuisine, inspirational stories, and well-deserved honors. A big success for an exceptional organization!