Monday, November 21, 2011

It's more than just a day now

My plan was to write this blog last night but my mind and body was exhausted from the Dinner with Champions experience at Turner Field's 755 Club. I woke up this morning with my endorphins firing and had to put pen to paper.

Atlanta rallied behind L.E.A.D. in a major way last night. The program started with two great emcees, Sandra Golden and Chuck Dowdle of 680 The Fan. The crowd was welcomed by 2011 Jr. Ambassador Ryan Martin who attends B.E.S.T. Academy. I was moved by his words as he spoke about the impact that L.E.A.D. has on his life. Currently, 34% of Atlanta Public Schools African-American males graduate from high school. As a proud former APS student (Grove Park Elementary School), I know that the school system works but there are so many challenges within inner city Atlanta communities that makes it difficult to reach success.  Thus the need for us as mentors to go to bat for inner city males everyday. We serve with dignity and love.

Jacarri Allen who attends John F. Kennedy Middle School spoke about the impact that L.E.A.D. has made in his life. I appreciated him being authentic. He told the audience that he came to L.E.A.D. with poor grades and a bad attitude and 10 months later, his grades continue to suffer. Jacarri is a brilliant kid who is in a transitional phase of his life. He will graduate from high school and enroll in college but it is going to take the support of the Atlanta community to make it possible. When Jacarri shines, America shines.

I am so ready to move mountains after hearing our keynote speaker John Hope Bryant last night. If we really want to make America better, we must invest in our youth. John made it clear to us all last night that it is a mistake to give up on individuals that are in transition in their life. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received a C grade in public speaking while in seminary school. Steve Jobs struggled to make good grades. Our lives are all better today because of contributions to the world by these two powerful men. Thank you John Hope Bryant for answering L.E.A.D.'s call and providing hope to America everyday. I told John at the end of the evening that I am thankful that he wrote his book LOVE LEADERSHIP because it is difficult to take it all in when he is speaking. Dynamic!

Yesterday was a special day for L.E.A.D. to say the least. Thanks to Rendell Jackson, Atlanta Public Schools Office of Athletics and Michael Julian Bond, Atlanta City Councilman, Post 1 At Large, November 20th will always be recognized as C.J. Stewart Day and L.E.A.D. Day in Atlanta, GA. Wow! I have tears of joy again as I write this. This recognition means so much to me. Atlanta has been good to my family for generations. I am Atlanta because I serve.  I am Atlanta because I lead.  We are Atlanta because we RISE UP!

Special awards were presented to our Legacy Builders Michael J. Russell (HJ Russell & Company) and Sam Bacote.  Our Community Partners are Victor Menocal (Excel Sports Management), Chuck Dowdle (680 The Fan), Walter C. Thomas (Thomas Barber Shop), Kathy Brandt (Rotary International), Lincoln Martin (former Houston Astros scout) and Tom Hughes (Hope Beckham PR).

The upcoming year is going to be full of excitement and many more families will be impacted. Communities will be changed because of the support of Atlanta.  We are a great city! Let's all commit to increasing the high school graduation rate of African-American males from APS schools. L.E.A.D. has successfully graduated 100% of our Ambassadors from high school and they all have enrolled in college while 89% have enrolled with a baseball scholarship. There are thousands of young men in this city who need us. Click here to join us as we L.E.A.D. Today and Change Tomorrow!

Special thanks to my beautiful wife Kelli Stewart and my amazing daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna.  Special thanks to our L.E.A.D. Weekend sponsors Atlanta Braves, Georgia's Own Credit Union, Aramark and 680 The Fan.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We were all CELEBRITIES today

We couldn’t have ordered better weather for our 5th Annual L.E.A.D. Celebrity Baseball Clinic at Turner Field.  We had 60 clinic participants that had the time of their life.

Kelli, Mackenna and I arrived at Turner Field at 6:30AM knowing that today was going to be a great day because it has to be that way when Mary Jo Walker is involved.

For the first year, Kelli and I were able to relax and enjoy the clinic experience. D.J. Huyck, Ben Wolosick and Steve White handled the on field experience like champions.  Dexter Fowler, Bobby Scales, Jon Mark Owings, Chris Epps and Travis Witherspoon had the kids swinging the bat with power from the Turner Field batting box.  The kids were able to roam the outfield grass with Jason Heyward and Telvin Nash.  Jemile Weeks and Tony Plagman taught them how to flash the leather in the infield dirt while Micah Owings and Jamel Mann showed the tools of the trade from the pitcher’s mound.  Barbara Greene proved that baseball is 90% mental in her mental game of baseball workshop.  Special thanks to all of the Kennesaw State University baseball players in attendance.

Doug Melton, ATS Graphics hung out with me for the VIP experience.  He provided over 100 complimentary clinic t-shirts for all of the participants.  We all remained refreshed with Blue-04 water.  These were definitely homeruns for L.E.A.D.! Thank ya Kaisha Weeks!

Our annual Celebrity Clinic truly allows L.E.A.D. to connect communities throughout Atlanta.  Serving others is the "Atlanta Way" and I’m so glad that we were allowed to L.E.A.D. the way!

Tomorrow is our 2nd Annual Dinner with Champions Awards Ceremony at Turner Field’s 755 Club.  Angie Chesin and Mary Jo Walker are on deck but they are batting 1.000 so I’m not worried.  Our keynote speaker is John Hope Bryant.  Talk about a dynamic speaker.

We will be officially announcing the 2012 L.E.A.D. Ambassadors as well as the 2011 Jason Heyward Award recipient.  There are over 300 guest confirmed with a few tickets remaining.  Click here to purchase your tickets.  You don’t want to miss this.  Our Legacy Builder recipients are Michael Russell (H.J. Russell & Company) and Sam Bacote.  Community Awards will be presented to Victor Menocal (Excel Sports Management), Tom Hughes (Hope Beckham PR), Kathy Brandt (Rotary District 6900 Assistant Governor), Tommy Thomas (Thomas Barber Shop), Lincoln Martin (former Houston Astros scout) and Chuck Dowdle (680 The Fan). 

Special thanks to the Atlanta Braves, Georgia's Own Credit UnionAramark and 680 The Fan for sponsoring L.E.A.D. Weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What it means to be Georgia's Own

I'm Georgia's Own and that means that I have a responsibility to serve others in my state the same way that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did.

I'm Georgia's Own and that means that I must learn from the success of other communities and bring the good news and practices to the pecan state as Ambassador Andrew Young does.

I'm proud to be Georgia's Own along with my youth development organization L.E.A.D. L.E.A.D. successfully uses baseball to allow inner city Atlanta males to access college. Yesterday, Georgia's Own Credit Union raised over $28,000 for L.E.A.D. in it's annual golf tournament. This donation will allow L.E.A.D. to keep over 10 inner city males on track to graduate from high school and attend college.  L.E.A.D. is a year round organization that serves over 180 middle and high school age males from the Atlanta Public School System.  Our four pillars of excellence are athletics, academics, service and exposure.

The state of Georgia currently graduates 45% of African-American males from high school. Since 2007, L.E.A.D. has graduated 100% of our Ambassadors and they all have enrolled into college while 89% have enrolled in college with a baseball scholarship. We are transforming inner city communities with year round programs that are measured for success.

Our young men have a future and Georgia's Own Credit Union is helping them own it. Special thanks to Dave Preter, Georgia's Own/CEO, Julee Brunson, Georgia's Own; Vivian English, Georgia's Own; and Ted Wood, Morgan Stanley.

We are counting on the Atlanta community to continue to support L.E.A.D.  Click here to purchase your tickets for L.E.A.D. Weekend 2011 at Turner Field Saturday, November 19-20.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What are we doing?

The Legacy League is winding down. Twenty middle school and forty high school student-athletes continue to work hard to develop their baseball and leadership skills.

Our 3-month program provides a service opportunity each month, exposure to over five corporate industries and thousands of repetitions under the watchful eye of professionals.

One of the main purposes of the Legacy League is to help me identify the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors. We choose 20 Ambassadors that represent the best of L.E.A.D. from the 40 high school participants. The Ambassadors will be officially announced at L.E.A.D.'s 2nd Annual Dinner with Champions Awards Celebration. They will continue with their development with me through the summer.

Since 2007, 100% of my Ambassadors have graduated from high school and enrolled in college which 89% of them have enrolled with a baseball scholarship. Why commit to L.E.A.D.?  Because we use baseball to launch educational opportunities.

I can do so much more with your support. Join us during L.E.A.D. Weekend 2011.  Click here to learn more.