Rev. Jesse Jackson, PUSH Coalition, and Shaquille O’Neal kicks-off NBA All Star Weekend with “Welcome to Chicago 2020” fundraiser benefit at Soldier Field

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By Joseph Phillips
Sports Editor

In honor of the 2020 NBA All Star Weekend held in Chicago, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in collaboration with NBA Legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, hosted the “Welcome to Chicago 2020” fundraiser benefit event on Thursday, February 13, at Soldier Field.

The event was led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal, and the Citizenship Education Fund, co-chaired by former NBA Players Isiah Thomas and Dave Bing.

Due to an overtime NBA game, Shaq arrived just in time to share a few remarks with Rev. Jackson and the standing room only crowd at the United Club Room at Soldier Field.

“Hello Chicago,” said O’Neal, after appearing on stage. “My apologies for the delay, I love Chicago and I know how you all get down and do great things. We had an overtime game on TNT and I wanted to make sure I was here.”

According to O’Neal and Jackson, the event was designed to raise funds and defray expenses to the Saturday morning PUSH Excel STEM and Robotic programs in Chicago, support the “Cool Kids Code” program first piloted in Detroit, Michigan, and support the PUSHTECH 2020 initiative program located in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley’s Rainbow PUSH office.

To help close the digital divide among inner city youth, the “Cool Kids Code” program will look to expand nationally throughout several cities. Those cities include Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, and Milwaukee.

Their goal, according to Jackson, “is to help prepare inner city youth for future technological jobs.”

In addition to new expansion and future job development for the inner city youth, Jackson said the “Cool Kids Code” program will also have quality sponsors. The sponsors  for the program will include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler of America (FCA), and the Ford and Piston Automotive Group headed by former NBA great, Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson.

Throughout the evening, the “Welcome to Chicago 2020” event featured numerous athletes, entertainers, dignitaries and sports enthusiasts from around the world.

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