Spirit Of The Dream

Just a few hours after University of Houston Basketball coach Kelvin Sampson  complimented Penny Hardaway on the job he has done coaching his team this year, Mayor AC Wharton echoed those same sentiments as he presented Penny with his spirit of the dream award.

During his introduction of Hardaway, Wharton drew comparisons between Danny Thomas and Penny Hardaway. Just as Penny was doubted when he embarked on his journey as a college basketball coach, Danny Thomas was also doubted when he decided to build the city’s first hospital that accepted black patients. Just as Thomas was inspired and led by his lofty dream and vision, so is Penny Hardaway. He has a vision of returning Memphis Tiger basketball to national dominance. The pursuit of his dream and the manifestation of his vision makes Penny Hardaway the perfect recipient of the Spirit of the Dream Award.

“During the 5th annual St. Jude Spirit of the Dream, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® honored Penny Hardaway with the Spirit of the Dream Award, which is presented to a person who embodies the mission of St. Jude and its founder, Danny Thomas. Taking place during Black History Month, the St. Jude Spirit of the Dream event celebrates the achievements of African Americans who helped build the legacy of St. Jude and continue to support its lifesaving mission: Finding cures. Saving children.”

Mayor Wharton aslo quoted President Roosevelt during his introduction:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Verushka Wilson,of ALSAC/ St. Jude, coordinated an elegant celebration of black excellence. An evening meant to highlight the contributions of African Americans to the success of St Jude Research hospital also showcased other black entrepreneurs.

It was a wonderful sight to see. As I approached the Dominios Event Center @ St, Jude I saw all of these immaculately dressed black people valet parking their vehicles. There are two tents set up outside of the venue. One tent was lined with items for a silent auction for a variety of items. The other tent was a “VIP” area that included complimentary drinks. Rick Farwell provided the wine choices from black owned wine companies.

The inside of the building and the tables were exquisitely decorated. Each tray of food that was delivered to a table carried with it an aroma that would inevitably leave my mouth watering and my mind wondering, what’s that?” Well, that would be the brilliance of Chef Phillip DeWayne.

You may not have noticed as soon as you entered the room, but eventually you saw him. Off to the right of the stage, Jamond Bullock was quietly crafting a masterpiece. Bullock was painting a portrait of a young Penny Hardaway from the 1990’s with a hi top fade. Click here to follow Jamond on Instagram and see some of the murals he’s painted around town.

Radio host Bev Johnson served as auctioneer of the Live Auction. Among the items auctioned off were packages that included exclusive access to a Tiger Basketball practice, a Tiger Basketball game and the masterpiece by Jamond Bullock.

Following the live auction was a pledge style fund raiser. Pledges began at $5,000 and went as low as $50. Penny doing Penny type things began the fundraiser by making 2 $5,000 pledges.

Be sure to check out the Tigers Tuesday night as they try to even the score against SMU in Dallas.

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