Disney-Sponsored HBCU Football Game Provides Weekend of Activities in Central Florida

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 1, 2009 — The Fifth Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney kicks off Thursday, Sept. 3 with a fun-filled weekend of activities leading up to game day. The events include a career panel for local high school students followed by three separate competitions including an exciting match-up on the gridiron, a southern-style feast off the field and an entertaining performance on the stage.

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney pits South Carolina State University, the current defending champion of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), against Grambling State University, which is the 2008 title winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). This is the second consecutive year that the Florida Citrus Bowl has hosted the MEAC/SWAC football rivalry.

“We are excited to celebrate this rich college tradition that gives enthusiastic football fans from throughout the eastern seaboard another reason to visit Central Florida,” said Eugene Campbell, vice president of Community Relations and Minority Business Development for Walt Disney World Resort. “We are proud to sponsor this game as a way to not only support the African-American community and the 25 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Mid-Eastern and Southwestern Athletic Conferences, but also as an opportunity to grow this event into another highly ranked national football game that will have a positive economic impact on Central Florida.”

The weekend highlights include:

Thursday, Sept. 3

* ESPN 101 Career Panel, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Approximately 600 local high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers in sports and entertainment will attend the ESPN 101 High School Career Panel at the Disney-sponsored Boys & Girls Club in Pine Hills. Students from Edgewater, Evans, Jones, Oak Ridge, Wekiva and Ocoee High Schools will learn about the wide world of job opportunities within the sports business from a panel of industry professionals. This year’s panelists include ESPN SportsCenter co-host Jay Harris; Robert Vowels, NCAA vice president of educational affairs; Gerald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers business development manager; Valerie Royal, manager of Minority Business Development for Walt Disney World Resort, and more.

Friday, Sept. 4

* MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff Banquet, 8 p.m.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios serves as the back drop for coaches, student-athletes, team representatives, community leaders and sponsors as they celebrate the Fifth Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney college football game. The highlight of the evening includes the presentation of the Walter Payton award, which will honor a deserving player from each school. This year’s keynote speaker is Pro- Bowl Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow. SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris will emcee the banquet.

Saturday, Sept. 5

* Disney STEP Classic, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The Disney STEP Classic offers a full day of exhilarating musical entertainment and choreography at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Dozens of high school and college teams from the eastern United States take center stage on Saturday to showcase their best step routines and compete for top prizes totaling $20,000 in cash and scholarships. The top three winners will be showcased on the Pre-Game Stage before the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney and will be recognized during halftime.
* Magic Music Days Performance, 2:45 p.m.

As part of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney “Fan Day,” South Carolina State University’s Marching Band will parade down Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom just prior to Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade.
* Legends Dinner, 6 p.m.

Several notable legends, including athletes and musicians from the MEAC and SWAC will be honored during an evening tribute to their legacy at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Walt Disney World Resort. Grammy award-winning gospel artist Smokie Norful (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and former NFL cornerback Everson Walls (Grambling State University) are among those who will be recognized.

Sunday, Sept. 6

* The Heart and Soul Tailgate, 10 a.m.
The Heart and Soul Tailgate party features the best in gospel talent, games, fun and food. Fans can start the day at McCracken Field, located just outside the Florida Citrus Bowl, with the best collard greens in the south from the winner of the Collard Green Cook-off along with soul food from some of the best restaurants in Central Florida.
* Fifth Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, 2 p.m.
This year’s event features the MEAC’s South Carolina State University against the SWAC’s Grambling State University. The game will be televised live to a national audience on ESPN2 HD and ESPN360.com. This will be the first time these two teams have met since 1994. The MEAC leads the series 3-1.
* Battle of the Bands – Florida Citrus Bowl (Halftime)
South Carolina State and Grambling State bands will hit the turf during half-time to entertain football fans with their innovative and upbeat routines in hopes of winning their own on-field battle.

Sponsoring this annual football game is part of Walt Disney World Resort’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, which helps drive growth, creativity and innovation. Evidence of that commitment is seen through the company’s involvement with such organizations as the FAMU Law School, Bethune Cookman’s Hospitality College, Disney Entrepreneur Center, African American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, Florida Minority Supplier Development Council and Hispanic Business Investment Fund of Florida.

Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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