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Richardson Helps Launch 'Be a Champion' Contest

The New York Jets, the NYC Department of Education, and Lime Connect, an organization that connects people with disabilities for employment, launched the second annual "Be a Champion" essay-writing contest for middle and high school students with disabilities at the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan on Oct. 6.

The contest is designed to encourage students with disabilities to reflect on concepts of achievement and success as they prepare for the challenges of the last years of secondary education and think about their options beyond high school. The contest also provides a valuable instructional opportunity for teachers to address transition with their students.

Jets fullback Tony Richardson addressed students at the High School for Environmental Studies on the importance of setting goals and working hard. " 'Be a Champion' means striving for goals and always bringing your best whether on the field, in the classroom or in the workforce," said Richardson. "I want all students with disabilities to know career success is an outcome for everyone if they work hard and choose the path that best fits them."

"This is a great opportunity for our students with a variety of challenges to compete against their peers in an essay contest," said Laura Rodriguez, chief achievement officer of students with disabilities. "I want to thank the New York Jets and Lime Connect for making this possible. I believe all our students can be champions with the educational tools that we provide for them to succeed."

"This best-of-class partnership is opening new doors for these kids to reach for possibilities many didn't think were available to them," said Lime founder Rich Donovan. " 'Be a Champion' encourages them to 'think big' and go for it."

This week, city schools serving middle and high school students will receive two colorful posters for display outlining the rules of the contest. All students with disabilities in grades 6 to 12 are invited to take on the challenge of describing what being a champion means to them.

A panel composed of Richardson, Donovan, special educators and business leaders will select the 100 most outstanding essays. Authors of winning essays will be invited to attend an event in December hosted by Richardson and Donovan.

Donovan, who has cerebral palsy, is a successful entrepreneur and former portfolio manager for Merrill Lynch & Co. He holds a BBA in finance from Schulich School of Business at York University and an MBA in finance from Columbia Business School.

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