By: Alonzo Weston
January 8, 2012
A St. Joseph businessman ties his love of aviation to his compassion for inner-city youths, resulting in a special community event next month.
James Smith, a local chiropractor and former flight instructor, plans to invite several community leaders and about 250 students to the Barrington Irving Event. That event, which will be at noon Feb. 9 at emPower U, 518 S. Sixth St., will feature guest speaker Barrington Irving and a VIP luncheon.
Mr. Irving is the youngest person and the first black pilot to fly solo around the world. Mr. Smith’s hope is that Mr. Irving will inspire the students to pursue their dreams through aviation education programs and character-building exercises.
The event will also kick off what Mr. Smith hopes will be the beginning of a local Tuskegee Eagles program. The mission of the program – named after the Tuskegee Airmen, a storied group of black pilots who fought in World War II – is to provide motivation for inner-city youths and give them tools to help them succeed in life.
“It’s something to help these kids rise above their circumstances and inspire them,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s not just a welfare program; it teaches them and gets them excited about aviation.”
Mr. Smith has enlisted the help of the St. Joseph School District, emPower U, The Heartland Foundation, the MidCity Excellence Community Learning Center and other organizations to help with this endeavor. The Barrington Irving Event is sponsored by a Mitsubishi grant.
The event will also follow the release of “Red Tails,” a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen that will be released in theaters nationwide on Jan. 20.
“We hope this event will inspire young people to pursue their dreams and believe in themselves as they plan for their futures,” said Molly Pierce, director of educational marketing for emPowerU.
Source: News-Press Now