Carson Scholarship Fund Dinner

APRIL 22, 2007

Thank you, Ben (Carson). Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to accept this award. And I am proud to serve on the board of this great foundation.

Last fall, I was delighted to team with Johnny Unitas, Jr., in a fundraising golf match for the Scholarship Fund. It was a day of celebrity sightings and celebrity golf scores. I won't share my score with you. It was higher than�well, it was pretty high. My golf game has suffered considerably since I became a member of the cabinet. My clubs are dusty and my swing is rusty. But that day, joining Jerome Bettis and Cal Ripkin, Jr., I was felt so much pride.

I've learned that pride is part of the Carson Foundation experience. Ben makes you feel good, essential, and worthwhile. He motivates and encourages. He dreams. And he knows how to twist an arm or two�all in a good cause. He is completely dedicated to making opportunities available for students.

Tonight, I feel that pride again. I am proud to be part of this scholarship fund. I'm not the only one feeling some pride. There are some parents here who are very proud of their children. I can feel that pride radiating up here. I can see it in the eyes of each parent. I hear pride in every conversation, in every comment, and in every mention of our scholars. The parents are proud. They should be. We are all proud of the scholars here tonight. The scholars themselves are proud. They have earned this moment.

Good things - great things -- happen when you "Think Big" (as Ben tells us). By striving for excellence, our scholars are prepared to reach higher and extend their horizons.

To our scholars, we know what you have accomplished. We know that the past is prelude, and that the best is yet to come. But our pride is primarily about who you are�the kind of person you have already become. We see, in you, a person of character, commitment, serious purpose, and vast dreams. And we know that your destiny lies within your character.

This scholarship is an investment in you and in our nation. It is a statement of hope�that through your work and your life, America�the world�will become better, nobler, compassionate, and loving. So, we applaud you - the person you are - as we gather here tonight. You are talented scholars, one and all.

I congratulate our scholars and their parents.

And I congratulate Ben�you made this all possible. Thank you for your wisdom, devotion, and generosity. These scholars are truly "Carson" Scholars.

Thanks to all of you for making me a part of this 11th Annual Awards Dinner.


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