By Robert Fenbers and Kayla Julian
West Editor and West Staff Writer
The 2015 Presidential Scholarship Luncheon had quite a different feel this year as Tri-C partnered with the Cleveland Cavaliers to welcome Magic Johnson for the event.
The Renaissance Hotel hosted the event on the afternoon of Oct. 8. Many past and present from Tri-C were in attendance including President Emeritus Jerry Sue Thornton, the Tri-C men’s basketball team, the Cavaliers scream team and Cavalier Girls also made an appearance. Mayor Frank Jackson also was in attendance at the well-known community event.
The Cavaliers also offered four preseason tickets to one game for those in attendance who made a minimal donation of $20 or more to the Tri-C Foundation.
The yearly event raises money for the Tri-C foundation, which helps bring scholarship opportunities to many Tri-C students. It has welcomed many inspiring and landmark speakers over the years, such as President George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey and many others.
Vice President, Development & Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, Gloria Moosmann was honored for her continued support and her accomplishments that she has achieved through the Tri-C Presidential Scholarship Luncheon.
Before the event, Tri-C President Alex Johnson eagerly anticipated this year’s key note speaker. “This year is another example of someone who really regards Tri-C and the community college experience, Magic Johnson. I think all of us are looking forward to his words of wisdom and also looking forward to the opportunity to hear him talk about his accomplishments.”
The event began with Assistant Professor of Music, Kira Seaton’s rendition of the national anthem to a crowd of about 1,100 people that filled the grand ballroom.
This year’s keynote speaker needed no introduction, although, he received a loud applause, and an arena like welcome as he took the stage.
The Q and A session began as Cavaliers radio play by play announcer John Michael welcomed Magic and asked “How about those Cavaliers?”
Johnson lauded the accomplishments of last year’s team and praised LeBron James for his exceptional work ethic on and off the court.
Johnson then reflected on growing up in Michigan and how much his father influenced him on his everyday life, learning to always give 100%. “Every time you do a job, you have to do it the right way,” he said. That quote stuck with him as he matured and ventured into athletics and also the business world, where he would thrive helping to improve and restore the urban community.
Johnson, over the years has proved the business world wrong as they doubted his investments only to be astonished at what he has accomplished. He is an owner of the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, part owner of the NBA’S Los Angeles Lakers and WNBA’S Los Angeles Sparks.
He is also noted for an unprecedented Starbucks partnership, which helped boost the redevelopment in urban communities. He later divested his Los Angeles Lakers and Starbucks shares in excess of 100 million dollars.
Johnson, showed his emotional side when John Michael informed him of comments from longtime friend Jim Chones. Michael explained that Chones admired Magic and how selfless he was at such a young age. “I am blessed to have him in my life,” said Johnson. As he looked out at the crowd a few tears streamed from his eyes. Chones was like a brother to him and his teammate during his rookie year, when he won his first NBA championship. Chones now works alongside John Michael for Cavs radio.
After the emotional display, Johnson then flipped the script and surprised everyone as he stood up and said “I’m going to raise some money.” Johnson then pulled out seven floor seats for the upcoming Cleveland Cavaliers vs Los Angeles Lakers basketball game in Los Angeles. He then preceded to auction off $4,000 tickets which turned into a 50,000 donation to the Tri-C Foundation. But he wasn’t done, Johnson then auctioned himself off to make an appearance at any business or event. Three couples each donated $15,000 for his appearance at a time of their choosing. In total, Johnson raised $95,000 for the Tri-C Foundation in a matter of minutes; clever businessman indeed.
After he gave so much, in such a short amount of time, Johnson, himself, received a special gift from Tri-C.
President Alex Johnson informed Magic that there would be an Earvin “Magic” Johnson Scholarship Fund, established by the Tri-C foundation in honor of the distinguished speaker.