The Story That Caught My ‘I': Part II: The Fellowship Open

Written by admin   // September 29, 2010   // 0 Comments

We ended last week’s report on the Fellowship Open with the tournament’s organizers recognizing the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) and Ernie Ellison of the PGA for their leadership and contributions to the children in conjunction with the Fellowship Open. LaNelle Ramey shared with us how the PGA sponsored over 50 children from the Boys and Girls Club to Whistling Straits where they got a chance to meet real golf pros.

Every year the Fellowship Open sends a youngster to the Black Enterprise National Conference for Competitive Entrepreneurship. Ramey introduced James Kirk who attended the conference. Kirk shared his experience with us, thanking the Fellowship Open for hosting him and saying that “the conference was awesome. Every day was a learning experience.”

Kirk, who is a college student, was also presented with a brand new laptop computer to assist him with his studies. Kirk also recognized Thelma Sias of WeEnergies, the titled sponsor of the Fellowship Open. He presented her with a bouquet of beautiful pink roses.

Bob Yamacika and Shanee Jenkins were also introduced. They represent the Chuck Rhodes Fellowship Open /YMCA Youth Scholarship, named after Rhodes, who was a founding member of the Fellowship Open, who was dedicated to children.

This year’s scholarship recipients were Milwaukee County Council, Boys Scouts of America Youth Program, Solomon Community Temple United Methodists Church and Transitions: Men of Tomorrow. These organizations are having a tremendous impact on community and the thousands of youth they serve daily. Honored guest Junior Bridgeman and “famous” Darlene Austin presented the awards to the organizations.

Charles Harvey, vice president of Johnson Controls, shared with us that his company and the Fellowship Open will partner on a new mentoring program in the next year.

“Big Cheese” (as I call him) John Daniels bubbled with excitement as he thanked everyone in. for coming out and participating in the tournament. He introduced US Senator Herb Kohl who, Daniels said “has done great things for our city. (He’s) a true friend to our community, a philanthropist and a man who supports our youth and has opened many doors for them. Equally as important, Kohl is a friend of Junior Bridgeman. We asked him to join us in honoring Bridgeman with the 2010 Fellowship Open Legends Award.

The senator could not say enough about the former Milwaukee Bucks star. Kohl noted Bridgeman’s career as a basketball player with the Bucks, his team records and milestones, such as most games played as a Buck.

Kohl also talked about Bridgeman’s life after basketball, starting Bridgeman Foods, Inc., where he is chief executive officer overseeing more than 150 Wendy’s Restaurants that employ over 11,000 people. Bridgeman Foods, Inc. is number nine on Black Enterprise Magazine’s 100 Top Businesses, making him one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the nation.

The senator added that Bridgeman has a strong commitment to community service and is an active supporter of children’s organizations around the country. “In his disciplined and dignified way, Junior represents the best of what each of us seek to impart to our children,” Kohl said.

“He’s brilliant in every forum in which he occupies. (He’s) a humble advocate willing to be a champion of those who are less fortunate. We are honored to be able to celebrate Junior Bridgeman’s significant contributions as a leader and mentor. It is with great pleasure that we present to you, the 2010 Fellowship Open Legends Award.”

Sylvester Simms, one of the most brilliant artists in the Wisconsin, presented Bridgeman with a portrait he did of the honoree.

Bridgeman, in true humbleness, said, “I really don’t deserve this.” Thanking the Fellowship Open for all its great work. The former basketball star turned entrepreneur shared a story with us about a young man he hired who wanted to make money so that he could buy tennis shoes. As they talked, a man walked passed them with no legs. Bridgeman then asked him how important were having tennis shoes now.

You never know how you will impact a child’s life. Again, thank you!

Billy Young introduced Redonna Rodgers, co-founder of the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship, who he called “one of Milwaukee’s most dedicated community advocates.”

“Redonna has a profound effect on the lives of countless young people, with an understanding and connection of education and the business world,” Young said. “The Center has assisted over 60 businesses started by young people under the age of 24. The Center has served over 14,000 young people in many of their endeavors. As a mentor and life coach, Redonna is an inspiration to all who encounters her.

Daniels and the tournament directors presented Rodgers with her commutative portrait done by Simms as well. It was Redonna’s lucky day she got to get hugs and pictures with all the guys–including Bridgeman. Holla!

Redonna with her million dollar smile embraced her surroundings in a God spirit. She begins to sing to all of us. “I need you, you need me. We are all apart of God’s Family.” She thanked everyone, calling off a few people who have made a real difference in her life, Sheila Payton, Senator Herb Kohl, their life is their business.

She says there are three kinds of people in the world; those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who scratch their head and wonder what happened. “This is a fantastic group of people here. You are doing so many things to help people.

“I’m fortunate to be in the group. I’m privileged to be. Please pray for us who serve children daily. Love, compassion and a push along the way is what we all need.” Redonna thanked Thelma Sias. Then she shared that there is a higher order that takes care of all of us. Again, thank you so much.


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