The Glacier Valley Rotary Club is kicking off its ninth annual Pillars of America Freedom Series of lectures this week with an expert on counter-terrorism.
On following Wednesdays an Olympic gymnast, an entertainer who has worked with troubled kids, and a noted surgeon who grew up poor will speak to luncheon crowds at Centennial Hall.
``We're looking for names that are recognizable,'' said Pat Shea, president-elect of the Rotary and co-chairperson of the lecture series. ``Speakers that have a message that can reach kids, things they overcame in life, heroic events. Someone kids can look up to and relate to.''
Local companies help defray the costs by sponsoring speakers. And this year businesses have bought about 500 tickets so schoolchildren can attend for free, Shea said.
Michael Janke, a 12-year member of the Navy SEAL commandos, will speak this Wednesday about mastering self-discipline, teamwork and management skills. He blends stories of combat with practical techniques for improving individual and organizational performance, the Rotary said.
Speaking April 26 will be Peter Vidmar, who captained the U.S. men's gymnastics team to its first-ever Olympic gold medal in 1984 in an upset over the People's Republic of China. Vidmar won the silver medal in the individual all-around competition, and with a perfect score captured the gold medal in his specialty, the pommel horse.
Steve Rizzo, a former English teacher and youth counselor in New York State, has also worked professionally as an entertainer, appearing on a variety of television shows. Rizzo will speak May 3 about how to use humor to control negative emotions and to overcome obstacles to success.
Dr. Benjamin Carson grew up in poverty, did poorly in school and had low self-esteem, according to a Rotary press release. But now Carson is director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. Carson, who gained worldwide recognition as the principal surgeon in the 22-hour separation of the Binder Siamese twins, will speak May 10.
The luncheons start at 11:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each or $80 for the series. They are available at Hearthside Books.
Sponsors of speakers are: Alaska Marine Lines, Odom Co./Coca-Cola, Couer Alaska, First National Bank of Anchorage, Holland America Cruise Line, and Bartlett Regional Hospital and its foundation.
Providing free tickets to youths are: Alaska Pacific Bank, Bullwinkle's Pizza, Capital City Weekly, Evergreen Motors, First Bank, Food Services of America, Fred Meyer, the Juneau Empire, Mendenhall Auto Center, PTI Communications and Driftwood Lodge.