A former NBA star and current youth foundation leader will be in Sumter on Thursday as part of the National Day of Prayer.
A.C. Green is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that brings together faith leaders and members of the community.
Green played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association, most of them with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three NBA championships with the Lakers in 1987, 1988 and 2000 - sharing the court with everyone from Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. In 1997, Green set a new NBA "Iron Man" record when he played in his 1,192nd consecutive game.
During and after his playing career, Green has been active in community involvement efforts. He founded the A.C. Green Youth Foundation in 1989 to promote sexual abstinence education. The foundation has worked to create school curricula, videos and leadership camps to build self-esteem and character in young people and teach moral and ethical principles that will help them make responsible decisions in life.
On Thursday morning, Green will speak at the annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at the M.H. Newton Family Life Enrichment Center of the Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church at 415 Manning Ave. The breakfast annually draws hundreds to hear speakers expound on the themes of the National Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday in May. The theme for this year's breakfast is youth development.
"That dovetails into what he's doing with the youth foundation," said Jim Field, chairman of the breakfast's steering committee. "It's about the importance of having a mentor. The community has worked hard to develop a (mentoring) program with the schools. We've done a good job with the amount of people involved."
The breakfast alternates each year between the Family Life Enrichment Center and Alice Drive Baptist Church, often attracting more than 500 people.
"Those are the only venues large enough to hold that many people," Field said.
Although the breakfast is formally hosted by the mayor of Sumter, the event is organized by a private steering committee led until this year by retired Lt. Col. Stan Schaetzle.
"When I was elected there had not been one for several years," said Mayor Joe McElveen. "I believe it may have been one of the first city-wide events held in the south-central area when the second one was held at Jehovah."
"I'm a friend of Stan Schaetzle, and I got involved with him," Field said. "Prior to that, I think there was one other group that did one, but Stan really wanted to expand it."
This year's breakfast will be served at 6:45 a.m., with the program commencing at 7:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 ($5 tax deductible) in advance, and $12 ($7 tax deductible) the day of the event. The theme for this year's breakfast is "Inspiring God's Children."
Organizers believe the breakfast has been such a success because it has been able to attract speakers who give their audience a new way of looking at things.
"We have good speakers who bring their life experience and knowledge to the event, and people hopefully see how they can apply that in their own lives," McElveen said. "It's one of the major faith events or spiritual events in the community that brings together people of all faiths. We had a speaker one year who said to me, 'I've been to a lot of prayer breakfasts, and I've never been to one where we actually prayed.'"
"It's kind of an outreach group. (The speakers) try to pass on what they've learned to others," Field said. "Not everyone can be at the prayer breakfast, but the people who are there can pass on what they got out of it."
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Swan Lake Visitors' Center at (803) 436-2640, online atwww.sumterprays.com or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.