Governor’s Philanthropist of the Year Award Speech, March 2007
Thank you Governor Gibbons.
Thanks to everyone for giving me this honor tonight. Although this kind of recognition is uncomfortable, and certainly humbling, it makes me so proud of the team effort, of those that have given to my foundation and made possible our charter school. I share this moment with you.
Most of you know that I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in Las Vegas. I know first hand that we live in a great city; we have the opportunity to flourish in a great community. Las Vegas has been the launch platform for every accomplishment in my family and career. The people of Las Vegas have embraced me in a way I never could have imagined, and because of that, from early on, I wanted to make a difference, not just generally in the world, but specifically here – in my home town. The more I became aware of the struggles and needs of so many people living so close to us, especially children, their struggle became personal to me. We began to adopt a saying. “It’s not business, it’s personal.” We went from interested to committed, from bystanders to participants.
This is truly one great place to raise a family, to build a business, to make a great life, to experience prosperity. However, the blessings have rained down unevenly. There are still too many with too few opportunities, we can’t let that happen on our watch.
I believe that our community is only as prosperous as the single parent trying to make ends meet. We are only as successful as that child that has the least. We are only as healthy as the weakest among us, and we are only as educated as the one with the least chance to learn.
So I feel fortunate to be speaking to the leaders and shapers of Las Vegas, you who have the power to make a difference. Many things have gone right for each of us in our lives, and we can use our ambitions, our creativity, our drive, our leadership to make every child in this city happier, more hopeful, with a clear path toward everything they were meant to become.
In every successful life, you can look back and find a turning point, a chance, a mentor, one special break. The grip of poverty and need on a young life may seem relentless to them, but just one act of kindness can stop it in its tracks. We have the choice to make it personal, to create that legacy, to be that role model. It may be the most important thing we do with our lives.
I feel privileged to share this passion and calling with you, and I feel privileged to be partners with you, in giving back to those that are vulnerable, but so filled with potential and destiny.
This work is my greatest priority, and I look forward to seeing you here next year. Thank you.