Gathering in faith, hope, and understanding, more than 1,000 guests and local leaders attended the YMCA’s 25th Annual Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy Prayer Breakfast, commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Vikki Kennedy Johnson, acclaimed pastor, author, and broadcaster, served as keynote speaker for the anniversary event. As the granddaughter of Arthur “Pappy” Kennedy, Orlando’s first black elected official, she urged guests to carry on the dream that inspired her grandfather and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Like Dr. King, my grandfather had a dream that everyone would get along and be decent to one another if only given a chance,” said Dr. Kennedy Johnson. “There’s power in a dream, but the challenge for us today is to embody the dream, persevere and make a difference. When we embody God’s dream for our lives and the earth, we will realize His blessings and live in unity. Are we there yet? We’re close, but there’s still a way to go.”
Dan Wilcox, YMCA of Central Florida President/CEO, spoke about the Y mission-driven role to unite and strengthen communities. “It is upon each of us to continue pushing for positive change,” Wilcox said. “Today, and every day, our organization is working to improve the lives of all people. “We hope you’ll join with us through the Y’s cause and mission to be a force for positive change.”
The event’s other speakers included Orlando City Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, former Orange County Commissioner Homer Hartage, and Marcia Hope Goodwin, Director of the City of Orlando’s Office of Community Affairs and Human Relations.
LaRue Howard of the River of Life Christian Church, along with the Experience Center Praise Choir provided the morning's musical entertainment.
Mike Manuel, Chair of the YMCA Metropolitan Board of Directors, joined with event co-sponsors Marcus Riggins, President of the Southwest Orlando Jaycees, and PepsiCo Executive Derek Lewis, in awarding scholarships to four outstanding high school seniors.
Recipients included Vivek Suri of Winter Park High School; Ajalie Coryat of Lake Nona High School; Mitchina Dorson of Maynard Evans High school; and Neil Rios LaVerde of Colonial High School.
Tiffany Moore Russell, Orange County Clerk of Courts, received the Southwest Jaycees’ Lifetime Achievement Award for dedicated public service.
In addition to the YMCA, the prayer breakfast's other sponsors include PepsiCo, the Southwest Orlando Jaycees and the City of Orlando’s Martin Luther King Commission.