HOJO and Harlem Globetrotters Send Tampa Kids Back to School with $15,000

Aug 27, 2010, 15:15 ET from Wyndham Hotel Group

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Happiness and smiles were abundant today as 85 homeless students from the Tampa area received a private visit from the Harlem Globetrotters and $15,000 -- the grand prize in the Howard Johnson (HOJO) hotel brand's The Give Happy Challenge, a national competition that challenged people to make others happy.

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During an event held at the Bob Gilbertson Central City YMCA in Tampa, the students of the Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School were welcomed back to school by HOJO and the Globetrotters through the team's "C.H.E.E.R™ For Character" program. Students watched in amazement and excitedly participated in the Globetrotter's signature basketball wizardry while learning about Cooperation, a Healthy mind and body, Effort, Enthusiasm and Responsibility.

Rui Barros, Howard Johnson brand senior vice president, was also on hand to present the students with a check for $15,000 and provide each child with a new orange HOJO backpack.

"Happiness is infectious and a little bit goes a long way," said Barros.  "To see the compassion and eagerness with which these students have worked to spread happiness is both heartwarming and inspirational. Hopefully, today's festivities are seen as not only a way to reward their tremendous efforts, but will encourage them, and those around them, to continue spreading happiness in the future."

Deemed winners through online public voting, the students entered the challenge with good deeds that included raising money for Haiti Earthquake survivors, creating clay bowls for the "Empty Bowls" project that helps fight hunger and singing carols for local homeless families during the holiday season.

The students will donate the $15,000 to the Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School so that it may continue to provide the supplies, clothing and experiences necessary for its students, all of whom are homeless and live in shelters, to continue to receive a great education.

The Give Happy Challenge was created by Howard Johnson with the help of the Harlem Globetrotters, two brands with a legacy of spreading fun and cheer, as a way to encourage others to do the same.

The Original Harlem Globetrotters will celebrate their 85th Anniversary in 2011, continuing a world famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that continues to thrill fans of all ages. Throughout their history, the Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 120 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever experience with the sport of basketball.  The Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans -- among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents -- over more than eight thrilling decades, earning induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Howard Johnson International, a member of Wyndham Hotel Group's family of lodging brands, is a global chain of primarily midscale and economy hotels featuring single, double and suite accommodations. All properties in the U.S. and Canada offer complimentary high-speed Internet access, expanded cable television, in-room coffee and weekday newspaper. Select hotels offer complimentary Rise & Dine® continental breakfast and allow pets.

Reservations and information are available by calling (800) 446-4656 or by visiting www.hojo.com. All Howard Johnson hotels are independently owned and operated.  Howard Johnson International is an indirect subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN).

EDITORS:   Photos and logos can be downloaded from the Wyndham Worldwide Media Center, available here. For more information about Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and its businesses, go to www.wyndhamworldwide.com.

SOURCE Wyndham Hotel Group