2007
Alonzo Mourning, Jr.

Alonzo Mourning, Center for the Miami Heat, was born in Chesapeake, Virginia on February 8, 1970. Upon graduating from Georgetown University in 1992 with a degree in sociology, Alonzo was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, and later played for the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets. In the end, Alonzo headed back to Miami where he led his team to the NBA finals and the franchises first Championship in the 2005-2006 season. Alonzo is also a seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Alonzo was selected to join an elite group of NBA players who represented the United States in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Off the court, Alonzo has dedicated himself to creating positive and lasting changes in the lives of children. He has focused his community involvement on becoming an outspoken advocate for youth initiatives and foster care programs that assist abused, abandoned and neglected kids through his charitable organization, Alonzo Mourning Charities (AMC), Inc. Since 1997, AMC has raised more than $6 million for various organizations that aid in the development of children who are vulnerable to at-risk situations. In addition to supporting other non-profits, Mourning has focused his attention to stimulating the development of youth centers. Alonzo’s charitable efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2006 he was awarded the NBA Community Assist Award, in 2003 he received the National Urban League’s Outstanding Community Service Award, and the Silver Medallion Community Service Award, and in 2002 he also received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Sportsmanship Award. Out of the spotlight and at home, Alonzo and his wife Tracy enjoy spending time with their son, Trey and daughter, Myka, and are active in various charitable programs. They are also supporters of numerous organizations that work to improve the lives of countless individuals.

 
Patti LaBelle
Belting out classic rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards and spiritual sonnets have created the unique platform of versatility that Ms. Patti is known and revered for. As she continues into her fourth decade of performing, the Philadelphia maven has returned to her roots with her latest project, The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle. “I was born gospel, so it’s not like I’m coming back or trying to impress people with this new gospel project.” In addition to her amazing entertainment career, Ms. LaBelle's work as a humanitarian is legendary. She has been active championing adoption, foster care, Big Sisters and the United Negro College Fund. While Ms. LaBelle's celebrated career is respected world-wide, she has also endured and survived personal strife. Within a 10-year period, she lost her mother, three sisters and best friend to diabetes and cancer. LaBelle herself was diagnosed with diabetes in 1994 and became a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. Ms. LaBelle is mom to five children: a biological son, an adopted son and daughter of her late sister Jackie, and later 2 neighborhood children. LaBelle and her children live in Philadelphia.
 
Marcus Samuelsson
Marcus Samuelsson has seen the world through his adoption story and his culinary pursuits. In 1973, three-year-old Marcus Samuelsson was orphaned when his mother fell victim to a tuberculosis epidemic that raged through his Ethiopian homeland. He and his sister found refuge at a Swedish field hospital in nearby Addis Ababa, where they were taken in by a nurse who arranged for their adoption by a young Swedish couple. In his culinary pursuits, Marcus Samuelsson has received more accolades than most chefs receive in a lifetime: He was the youngest chef ever to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times from Ruth Reichl in 1995. Samuelsson has received the great honor of “Best Chef: New York City” from the James Beard Foundation and the James Beard Foundation also honored him as best “Rising Star Chef.” Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Restaurant Aquavit, is proud of Aquavit’s consecutive four-star ratings in Forbes’ annual “All-Star Eateries” feature. Samuelsson’s first American cookbook Aquavit and The New Scandinavian Cuisine was released by Houghton Mifflin in October 2003. On the philanthropic front, Samuelsson furthers his commitment to children by acting as the official spokesperson for a partnership between Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Antibacterial Hand Soap and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Samuelsson also dedicates his time and talent to the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a non-profit organization that provides inner-city high school students with training, scholarships and jobs in the restaurant and food service industry. Samuelsson also serves on C-CAP’s advisory board and as the restaurant chairperson for the annual spring benefit.