By Jessica Ryan ’19
On Thursday Oct 19th, the annual Celebration of Faithful Leadership fundraiser brought many people together. Not only were the Fighting Scot athletes in attendance, the community, alumni, and donors were also invited to gather in the Bennett Center.
Tim Tebow, The Harlem Globetrotters, and Gordon basketball player Jenna Olson (‘18) were keynote speakers.
The Harlem Globetrotters kicked off the night by warming up the crowd. They pulled off intense trick shots in front of fans, families, and college students. Their comedic acts got the crowd roaring, and stunned some, when they soaked the audience with cups of water. They also signed autographs and took pictures with fans after the event.
Following, there was an All-Star Walk of Honor that introduced alumni athletes and coaches that were a part of the sports program. The most notable All-Star was Marv Wilson, a well-known Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon. He was the last honoree of the George F. Bennett Leadership Award during the All-Star Walk of Honor.
Olson, a student athlete, took to the court where she delivered a speech about merging her faith with her passion for sports. Jackie Zigami, Director of Advancement Events, asked her to speak at the event.Olson said, “I got an email from Jackie this summer asking if I was interested in speaking. When I got to campus I had an interview.”
With the many months of planning, Olson was still in the dark about certain things. She had no idea she would be speaking alongside Tim Tebow. Olson said, “The event was so much fun. They did a good job organizing it and worked hard to prepare me. The preparation for the event was what stood out to me, I really appreciated it.”. After her speech, Olson exited behind the curtain to find Tebow, who congratulated her and then took center court.
Tebow shared a speech that has inspired many athletes to use sports as a platform. He suggested that Christian athletes are “different,” but in a good way. Like himself, Gordon’s athletes hold the power to influence many people just by playing the sport that he loves.
He spoke about a football game that occurred on Jan. 8, 2009. It was his college football national championship and he was the quarterback for the University of Florida at the time. That game, he decided to put a bible verse under his eyes, the verse John 3:16. It references the Bible passage that says, “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This simple action got 94 million people to google “John 3:16.” Tebow says, “I thought it was about the playoffs and moving on but we serve a big God. He loves people and has a unique, special, purposeful plan for every single one of us and we can do amazing things in life.”
The event itself took much planning on the part of many, and was over a year in the making. Zagami was among the organizers of the event and said, “we placed invitations to Tim Tebow and the Harlem Globetrotters for them to be a part of our program back in January 2017, and we are thankful that they were available and excited to join us for this event.”
The overall objective of the event was to celebrate Gordon’s Athletics. Zagami added, “We wanted our guests to see what is at the heart of Gordon athletics – service and character.” The local community was invited as a thank you for being good neighbors, and alumni athletes and their families because they are the reason for the program’s’ success.
“We wanted our students to feel appreciated and esteemed as athletes and we wanted our donors to leave feeling like this is the right place to make a financial investment” said Zagami.