Boys and Girls Club Searches for Alternate Speaker

The death of retired NFL quarterback Steve McNair has an immediate local impact on the Meridian community.

The former Tennessee Titans and Alcorn State star was to headline the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi's Celebration of Excellence July 9.
Officials are now scrambling for a new speaker.

"We are working on looking at other guest speakers. It's one of those things. We're still open to anything and we're looking in all directions and we hope within the next couple of days to have a new program set," said Clay Holladay, president of the club's board of directors.

"We want someone to do justice to him and what he stood for, because he stood for young people and we want to stay in that line," said executive director Ricky Hood. "And we want to make sure that we stay in line with the work he did with young people and the work we do on a day to day basis."

Without a new guest speaker in place, Boys and Girls Club officials say one thing is for sure, and that is that the show must go on. The dinner raises funds that are vital to the club's operation.

It serves more than 2,000 children at four locations in Lauderdale and Kemper counties. Boys and Girls Club officials say the agency is now facing a deficit, making the fundraising dinner a must.

Holladay said the fact that the Meridian Public School District has pushed back its date to open school, due to ongoing construction, the club is in dire need of funds just to meet growing demands.

"It's not about us. It's not about a program," Holladay said. "It's about the children, and at the root of all of it, it's about us providing services for our children. And if we don't have the funds we can't do it."

With no major prospects as a new guest speaker right now and the dinner just days away, organizers say they are not worried and won't lose sight of the real reason for the dinner, which is to focus on the kids the club serves.

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