Leadership simulcast a success

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

“Homeless to Harvard” author Liz Murray brought tears to theeyes of several people at Friday’s Maximum Impact Simulcast, andshe did it all the way from Atlanta, Ga.

Murray spoke about her struggle from living on the streets,sleeping on park benches and dealing with addict parents torealizing her dream of going to Harvard University and getting adegree in psychology. She said a major turning point was the deathof her mother, who succumbed to the HIV virus when Murray was inher late teens.

“How long can you know there’s something better for your lifeand you just ignore that?” she asked. “When suddenly my motherwasn’t there anymore, I no longer had a tolerance for thestagnation in my life.”

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And she spoke of the realization as she stood on the HarvardCampus for the very first time that she was making her dreams areality.

“It’s a beautiful moment in life when you can realize that theonly thing that makes you different than other people is thatyou’ve done the work to get there.”

Murray was one of nine speakers that included former BritishPrime Minister Tony Blair and Sports Illustrated’s Individual MaleAthlete of the Century golf legend Jack Nicklaus. The inspiringmessages on leadership were broadcast in from the live event forlocal business leaders and other interested individuals to watchfor several hours at Easthaven Church on Friday.

Kenny Goza, who helped organize the event with other members ofthe Southwest Leadership Symposium, said the simulcast was asuccess. He said even as adults, the opportunity to learn is onethat should never be taken for granted.

“If you’re ever at a point where you don’t think you can learn,you’re going backwards,” he said. “We can all learn something new,even if it’s just through the encouragement of speakers like these.Whether you’ve heard it once or a hundred times, you can always usea reminder that you can fulfill your dreams.”

Event host Hampton Sims said he enjoyed the message from WaltDisney President of Worldwide Operations Al Weiss.

“There’s no one in the world who doesn’t know Disney, and here’sthe guy who’s responsible for a big chunk of that. To know he’sbasing his success on Biblical principles is such anencouragement,” Sims said.

There were about 120 people registered for the event, which wasin its second year, officials said.

“I feel like it went great, and those who were in attendancereally gained some powerful inspiration,” said Sims.

Goza said plans are already being made for next year’s simulcastbecause it’s not only an opportunity but an obligation forcommunity leaders to continue to learn and to encourage others.

“Regardless of your circumstances you’re able to have a dreamand you can overcome any obstacle that life puts in your way aslong as you have faith and hope and you believe you can do it,”Goza said. “Plus, continuing educational things are an economicdevelopment tool for our area. We’re preparing our workforce,whether it be high schoolers through something like the MississippiScholars program or adults through something like this.”