MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Dozens of inner-city students were treated to an inspirational red carpet experience, hosted by Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Saturday.
The night started at the Miami Gardens Betty T. Ferguson Center where police escorted a limo and a packed bus to South Beach for a taste of the good life.
“Not a lot of people can come over here, and especially for me, coming from Liberty City and coming to somewhere fancy as over here,” said Deandre Boykins of the SLAM Academy.
Rose Lattimore from the Stellar Leadership Academy also felt the luxury. “Being escorted by police officers, it was very different, you know?” she said. “You don’t get that type of royalty every day. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I thought it was really cool how you see them pull over and they’re like ‘Halt,’ and then you’re passing by. It was very fun.”
“They stopped the traffic and honored me,” described Adeja Wells, another scholar of the Stellar Leadership Academy.
For many of these middle schoolers, it’s something very far removed from where they live and go to school.
“Liberty City, Miami Gardens, Overtown and Opa-locka — on a daily basis, they’ve been inundated with the violence, the shootings,” said attorney Larry Handfield. “Most of their life is within a five-to-10-mile radius.”
It’s a reality Handfield knows firsthand. The South Florida attorney grew up in similar circumstances, and he wants these future leaders, as he calls them, to know there’s a big life out there. He’s convinced education and perseverance will open many doors.
“In spite of their circumstances and surroundings, I want to give them hope,” Handfield said.
The VIPs were seated and treated to inspirational speakers, a five-star meal and top-of-the-line service.
Speakers included attorneys, a doctor, a nurse and the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami.
“You are the future. Please, keep moving forward, even you guys in the back there,” said Brian Johnson of Joe’s Stone Crab.
So why Joe’s Stone Crab?
“This epitomizes success,” Handfield said. “It’s a landmark venue. Joe’s Stone Crabs is known worldwide.”
And, of course, the students ordered the world-famous dish. “I had the stone crabs also. My friends shared. They were really good, especially with the sauce,” said Rose.
However, Wesley Wray instead took a different route and had the filet mignon.
Overall, it was a meal and a moment to treasure, and the students took home a message of perseverance. “If you put your mind to it, you can go wherever you like to go,” Rose said.
Wesley had a more simple, though equally heartfelt, response. “Thank you for the experience,” he said.
This is the sixth year Joe’s Stone Crab has hosted these exceptional young people.
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