By Emily Williams
It was a full house in the south meeting rooms at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on May 8 for the annual Leadership Breakfast.
Hosted by The Foundry Ministries and Changed Lives Christian Center, the event raises money to support the long-term and transitional programs that each organization offers to men who are homeless or addicted, or men who are ex-inmates seeking to reenter society.
Serving as keynote speaker for the breakfast was Heisman-winner Bo Jackson, former football and baseball standout at Auburn University. Jackson went on to play both sports professionally, with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the MLB’s Kansas City Royals.
Though a severe hip injury cut his professional career in football short and hindered his success in major league baseball, he is widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.
After retiring from professional sports, he returned to Auburn to obtain his bachelor’s degree in family and child development and now serves as a speaker, advocate and philanthropist. One of his charities, the Give Me a Chance Foundation, is dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth more athletic and educational programs to help achieve personal and professional growth.
Supporting the disadvantaged is one of Jackson’s main goals in his own advocacy and charity work.
“It takes a lot to admit that you have a problem. It takes a lot to ask for help. It takes a lot to accept that help and do something with it in a positive way,” Jackson said.
During the program, a featured video shared the story of Foundry participants Blake Comer and Michael Gilbert. Both men sought help from The Foundry to recover from their respective drug addictions and began living a better, healthier and more successful life.
“Being successful to me is being brave enough to ask for help,” Jackson said.