Honoring a Legacy of Character

by Nicole Chin ’08

APU’s second annual Champions of Character Award Dinner featured a man of not only athletic prowess, but also personal and spiritual integrity. Special guest Michael Reagan attended to receive the award on behalf of his late father, the distinguished 39th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

The Athletics Department Champions of Character celebration was instilled in 2004 with the vision of recognizing Cougar sportsmanship. “We do this because there is more to sports than winning,” said Jim Larson, newly appointed assistant men’s basketball coach.

The event, a fundraiser for APU’s intercollegiate athletics program, opened with a time for VIP guests to meet with Michael. A silent auction accompanied the three-course dinner, followed by a live auction with Justin Leslie, director of development, and concluded with the keynote presentation by Michael.

Michael, a talk show host for “The Very Independent Michael Reagan Show,” shared many stories modeling Reagan's character, including his own adoption. He shared about his last goodbye with his father, and how he wrapped his arms around him and said, “I love you.” Michael encouraged alumni and other supporters at the banquet to put their arms around APU and the Athletics Department and build up people like Ronald Reagan, people of character.

When asked about his father’s character, Michael replied, “In a nation that lacks [character], we need to get it from the people who have it. And I think my father had it.”

In addition to honoring the late president, NAIA Coach of the Year Bill Odell recognized three exceptional APU athletes: Damien Brooks, Nathan Pratt, and Danielle Smith, as NAIA Champions of Character.