There is only one qualification for appearing on a Wheaties cereal box: Champion. You might be a world famous actor, politician or rock star but you are not going to show up on grocery store shelves touting the Breakfast of Champions.
Ever since Wheaties featured baseball icon Lou Gehrig on their product in 1934 hundreds of champions from the world of sports have made their mark on the iconic cereal box. Basketball legend Michael Jordon who was featured on the Wheaties box 18 times reminded us of the value of the breakfast of champions with his “You better eat your Wheaties” campaign.
In sports a champion is defined as a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition and is synonymous with prizewinner, victor, number one and king.
As a kid I didn’t actually like Wheaties nor was I particularly gifted in sports, but I did have a sense that being a champion was desirous, so I ate them. It never improved my abilities on the playing field but I did feel as if I was part of something special.
A few weeks ago, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted a Breakfast of Champions. No, we were not able to secure Arnold Palmer, Wayne Gretzky or Mary Lou Retton but we were able to gather a number of our region’s champions around a breakfast table to discuss working collectively on a coalition to make our community stronger.
We invited Southwest Florida leaders from the world of education, business, economic development, and government to breakfast in order to learn more about the FutureMakers Coalition and invite them to become champions of a different sort.
You see in more general terms a champion is a person who fights or advocates for a cause on behalf of someone else and can also be known as a crusader, booster or campaigner.
The FutureMakers Coalition’s goal is to transform the workforce in Southwest Florida by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 to 40 percent by 2025.
This translates into more opportunity for the residents of Southwest Florida, which means a stronger region and quality of life for us all.
This is work worthy of championing. But this effort can’t rely on a single institution or entity. No one group can take up the role of champion. Success on this field takes a team effort based on focusing on the collective impact we can create by working toward the same goal.
As one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment, the FutureMakers Coalition is a regional partnership committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners.
At the breakfast (yes we actually had the bright orange boxes on hand) we learned from Lumina Foundation coaches about the qualities and systems needed to form a successful coalition and what our roles are in championing this effort individually, organizationally and collectively.
Since the breakfast, the guests have been stepping up in the roles they selflessly agreed to take on for the FutureMakers Coalition. Placing partnership decals at their workplace, rallying support in their circles of influence, encouraging their team members to become active participants in the FutureMakers Coalition regional and county action teams and providing funding. Just like true champions- doing whatever it takes to create this collective win for our region.
If you would like to learn more or get involved in the FutureMakers Coalition visit FutureMakersCoalition.com and sign the wall. We have a big goal to reach and much work ahead – we better eat our Wheaties.