The Champions Association Inc., a.k.a. Champion Enterprises, recently held its 35th anniversary in which it honored some of the many people and businesses who had helped them over the years.

Now closing out “35” years of dedicated community programs and events, agency founder and CEO, Bill Neal, stated, “It’s been a long run, a marathon if you will, but at the same time, it’s felt like a sprint. It seems like yesterday when we were behind the YMCA in Homewood with the Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League. We were going to run the league one summer. That was 1975. Now, here we are 35 years later. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!”

BEST OF THE BEST—Awardees of the Champions are from left: Charles Powell, Marcy Pryor, Twanda Carlise and Iftakar Malic.

And have fun they did.

Thirty-five years, 25 programs a year—The Hawkins League, Kenny Durrett High School All-Star Classic, Franco Harris Football Camp and Willie Stargell MVP Awards Banquet, just to name a few.

But one of the biggest and most important programs, Toys for Champions, a.k.a. Toys for Tots, was the reason for this year’s event. The event takes on a different flavor each year at the end of the summer to raise funds for the Champions Christmas Party and Toy Giveaway and this year’s event did not disappoint.

The theme was “Red Party” and it flowed like the Red River. More than 200 people put on the ritz in their best red outfits, head to toe, to help Santa get the job done.

The heart of the party was recognition to those who were recognized as The Champions-Champions! Those who helped the agency help those less fortunate to a better way of life.

Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Chuck Powell, former City Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle, Iftakar Malic, Penn Avenue McDonald’s owner, and the New Pittsburgh Courier, represented by Marcy Pryor, were on hand to receive their awards.

The evening began and ended to the beat and footwork of Roland “The Line Dance King” Ford who had the crowd worked up to a sea of red on the dance floor all night.

And, if that wasn’t enough good times, the fabulous Diamond Models entertained and amazed the crowd with a red hot fashion show and off in the distance you could hear the “ching ching” of checks being written to buy some of the top sports artwork and mementos in the Champions silent sports auction.

Add that to the likes of celebrities like NBA superstar Armon Gilliam, western Pennsylvania hoops legend B.B. Flenory, sports talk show hosts John Tate and Smokin’ Jim Frazier and you got yourself a party, a Red Party as a matter of fact!

Many thanks go out to the staff and volunteers who made the 35th anniversary celebration a huge success, Neal said. Special thanks goes to Chuck Powell and, of course, the New Pittsburgh Courier, Turner Construction, CitiParks, Oxford Development, Roland Ford and the Sheraton Hotel Station Square, Neal concluded.

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