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By Marybel Rodriguez

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) –The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project hosted its 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast Monday.

The fundraising event and celebration brought together members of South Florida’s diverse community to commemorate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as to demonstrate community-wide support of the mentoring program.

About 58 young men were honored for their hard work and dedication – each one of them presented with their 5000 Role Models of Excellence medal by their mentors and presented to a room full of more than 2,000 people.

“It has made me see things I’ve never seen before, for the first time on a plane, seeing people I never met and seeing people out of my skin color in suits it’s different for me, made me want to do something better with my life,” said recipient Jason Foster.

Award-winning producer, director and actor Tyler Perry was the keynote speaker at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Miami.

“I’m honored to have Dr. Wilson invite me here. It’s been amazing. I’m honored as she is doing so many wonderful things for these amazing kids who deserve all this excitement and all the best,” said Perry about being invited to the event by Rep. Frederica Wilson.

The breakfast also brought together political figures who did not shy away from speaking out about the president’s controversial comments.

“In addition to being deeply offensive, true it really makes it difficult to move forward on more serious important issues,” said Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who also spoke at the event.

Other speakers included Rep. Wilson; Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and former Rep. Charlie Rangel.

The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project was founded in 1993 by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a former teacher, principal, Miami-Dade School Board member and state legislator. They are celebrating their silver anniversary on the same day Dr. Martin Luther King Junior would have celebrated his 89th birthday.

“I’m sure he smiling down and it doesn’t matter what else is happening,” said Rep. Wilson.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast raises scholarship money for graduating seniors of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.

The program, an in-school dropout prevention mentoring program for boys ages 9-19, has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships since it was founded.


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