Walt Disney World Resort
September 4, 2013
COMMUNITY UPDATE
Disney Supports MEAC/SWAC Challenge
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Nearly 25,000 fans recently kicked off football season during the 9th annual MEAC/SWAC 
Challenge presented by Disney. The weekend of activities culminated in a matchup between two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) with the Florida A&M Rattlers defeating the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils at the Florida Citrus Bowl. The four-day event attracted visitors to Central Florida, creating a positive impact on the region's economy. "Disney has a long history of supporting the African-American community and we are proud to build on this legacy by sponsoring this game," said Belinda Frazier, manager of minority business development for Walt Disney World Resort. "The MEAC/SWAC Challenge is a celebration for the whole family and underscores the importance of diversity and higher education." Televised live on ESPN, the game helped shine a spotlight on Central Florida.
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HBCU Bands Turn on the Beat at Disney 
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The HBCU marching band experience is one of the highlights of football season. In addition to the game day performances, fans visiting Central Florida for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge also got a special preview by the Florida A&M University 'Marching 100' and the Mississippi Valley State University Mean Green Marching Machine at Walt Disney World Resort. On Saturday, pep bands from both schools helped fans spark their school spirit at a pep rally at Downtown Disney. The bands also marched through Epcot and provided lively entertainment for park guests. "I'm happy to be at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge because I'm excited about two HBCUs coming together for a positive event, a fun-loving game," said Gladys Murray, a student at FAMU.
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ESPN Career Panel Motivates Local Teens
 
You don't have to be a professional athlete to have a successful sports career. That's the message heard by
hundreds of local high school students during the ESPN 101 Career Panel that kicked off the MEAC/SWAC Challenge weekend. Panelists, including representatives from Disney, ESPN, the Orlando Magic, UCF and the AAU shared their career stories and answered student questions about options in sports careers. "Our students have now had a chance to expand their understanding of the opportunities available to them in the world of sports beyond the dreams of becoming a professional athlete," said Jenny Gibson-Linkh, principal of Evans High School.
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Disney Awards 1000th Conservation Grant
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The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) recently awarded 150 new grants to projects that protect wildlife around the world, including Operation Migration, which promotes the conservation of migratory species. "Through financial support, participation and mentorship, Disney continues to set the standard for corporate leadership in conserving wildlife and habitats," said Joe Duff, co-founder and CEO of Operation Migration. Since its inception, DWCF has provided 1,000 grants totalling $24 million for the study of wildlife, the protection of habitats, development of community conservation and education programs and other projects that connect kids with nature. Guest contributions made at theme parks and resorts are combined with support from Disney to fund DWCF.

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Cast Members Show Support for the Arts
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Demonstrating their support for the arts, hundreds of Disney Cast Members, including George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, recently penned their names on a construction beam that will become a permanent part of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The center's "Building Arts for Every Life" tour is taking four-foot steel support beams around Central Florida, gathering signatures from residents and community leaders. One of the earliest investors in the performing arts center, Walt Disney World Resort will sponsor the center's largest hall. The Walt Disney Theater will seat up to 2,700 and become the new home to Broadway-style and other large-scale productions when the center opens in 2014. 
ALSO MAKING HEADLINES...
MEAC/SWAC Honors HBCU Legends
  
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Disney hosts this year's MEAC/SWAC Legends Awards, recognizing  individuals for their contributions on and off the field. 
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Disney Careers Start with HBCU Education

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Many Cast Members start their Disney career after graduating from a Historically Black College and University. 

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Cast Members Lend a Hand to United Way

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The Heart of Florida United Way gets help from Cast Members during its annual fundraising campaign. 
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Disney Ambassadors Give Back to Central Florida 

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Disney Ambassadors put on their VoluntEAR shirts to help Central Florida nonprofits fulfill their missions.
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Walt Disney World Resort 
Did You Know?
  
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 In September 1999, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth premiered at Epcot, featuring the world's first spherical video display system on a 28-foot diameter globe sphere.
 








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