ESPN’s Desmond Howard inspires at Y breakfast

People stood in line before the 19th annual YMCA Breakfast, just to take a real photo with ESPN’s Desmond Howard. Not a selfie.

Afterward, the College Football Hall of Famer, Heisman Trophy winner, Super Bowl XXXI MVP and 11 season NFL pro spent time patiently autographing footballs for sponsors.

Accomplished would be an understatement. But unassuming for sure as Howard credited his coaches but primarily his father for his success in life. “People are doing difficult things, but they’re taking on the challenge. I wanted to make him proud,” he said.

Howard was interviewed by former broadcaster, current blogger and Ballroom Battle emcee Paige Kornblue, like Howard a Wolverine herself.

“You have to figure out your why,” he said. “Add your own flavor and flair but stay kind.” He felt at home in Boca, having lived in Boca Pointe. But now he lives in Miami with his wife, daughter and twin boys. So he knows what parenting is like, he said. He encouraged kids, especially teens, to find a mentor at the Y and listen to their advice.

Howard got a standing ovation from nearly 500 people under a tent on the Peter Blum Family Y grounds, the first large gathering since the lockdown. “This is the best-looking crowd of YMCA supporters in my 30-year history,” YMCA of South Palm Beach County CEO Jason Hagensick said in his welcome. He acknowledged VIPs, Congressman Ted Deutch, county Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth, city Councilman Andy Thomson and former Y chief volunteer officers, among them Tim Devlin, Paul Adkins, Charles Deyo and Randy Nobles.

The Y stepped up to take care of essentials workers’ children as soon as they were allowed to reopen, he said. A video showed the Y’s new lab for teens gathering place in Town Center at Boca Raton mall.


The breakfast is the Y’s biggest fundraiser, event chair and Office Depot’s national community involvement director Alex Price reminded supporters. So he started the breakfast with a call from the heart, working the crowd to raise thousands for the Y’s teen leadership program. Dan Davidowitz was the first to pledge, and author/developer Frank McKinney “sold” his colorful jacket to benefactor Amy Kazma. Y staff, including Boca Y director Bryan Hunt, helped keep track of donations.

Sisters Tamara and Shana Dhaity, a Delray hospital nurse and Palm Beach State College student respectively, wowed with their National Anthem duet.

Also there were trustees’ vice chair Jackie Reeves and trustees and breakfast committee members Rosie Inguanzo-Martin with Joe, Linda Gunn Paton, Doug Mosley, Mary Sol Gonzalez and Giana Pacinelli.

By Marci Shatzman


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