ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- From the front office to the playing field, the American sports industry is lending some of its biggest names to help kids stay in school. Among the coveted items available are lunches with sports celebrities and signed sports memorabilia to be auctioned off during the fourth annual Lunch With A Leader(TM) online celebrity auction. The auction, which will end at 6:00 p.m. EST on February 20, takes place on eBay and will benefit Communities In Schools, the nation's largest dropout prevention organization. With Lunch With A Leader, there is no reason to wait for next year's football season to get in the game. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart is available for bidding along with Atlanta Falcons fullback Justin Griffith, all-pro defensive end Chester McGlockton or a Jacksonville Jaguars sideline-game experience that includes an opportunity to meet the players, have an autograph session and be the ultimate fan. "I am excited to partner with Communities In Schools on this auction, because I really believe in their cause," says Matt Leinart, Heisman trophy winning quarterback, USC. "To me, education is the most important thing in life," he added. In 2005, Leinart proved his commitment to education by choosing to complete his senior year at USC, instead of leaving school to be drafted by the NFL a year earlier. "It is very gratifying to see that so many of today's big names in sports, like Matt Leinart, recognize our cause of dropout prevention as one that needs to be addressed," says Bill Milliken, founder and vice chairman, Communities In Schools. "From hockey to football to basketball, we are thrilled to have this level of support for Lunch With A Leader." Sports fans can buckle up for a lunch with NASCAR legend Richard Petty or current Nextel Cup driver Brian Vickers. Some of the world's best mountain climbers are also available for bidding: Christine Boskoff, the leading American female alpinist; Phil and Susan Ershler, the only married couple in the world to reach the Seven Summits; Danielle Fisher, the youngest climber in the world to reach the Seven Summits; Michael Gauthier, the lead climbing ranger on Mt. Rainier; Ed Viesturs, the only climber in the world to summit the tallest mountain on all seven continents without oxygen; and Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest. Bidders can also learn front-office techniques from sports executives like Rich Dozer, president of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Peter Magowan, president and managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants; Don Waddell, Atlanta Thrashers' general manager; or Larry Coker of the Miami Hurricanes, an NCAA National Championship winning coach. Now in its fourth year, Lunch With A Leader has attracted more than 300 celebrity leaders who, through their participation, directly impact the lives of young people at risk of dropping out. Communities In Schools' 1 percent expense ratio ensures that proceeds from the online auction will go directly towards helping kids stay in school and prepare for life. In addition to these sports stars, singer Alicia Keys, actress Jenna Elfman and Starbucks president and CEO Jim Donald have joined such personalities as James Carville, Patti LaBelle, Kevin Eubanks, Sam Donaldson, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, and dozens of others in support of Communities In Schools. Sponsors of this year's Lunch With A Leader include: ICAP(R), Cox Communications, Bloomberg, Capital One Financial Corporation, UBS, Comcast Corporation, CVS/pharmacy, PT Research, Inc., Fannie Mae Foundation and The Washington Times. Founded in 1977, Communities In Schools is headquartered in Alexandria, Va. Today, nearly one million young people every year receive direct services through more than 200 Communities In Schools affiliates in 28 states. For two years in a row, Worth magazine named Communities In Schools one of the 100 top nonprofits in America.
SOURCE Communities In Schools