Liberian Athlete Wins Nelson Mandela Freedom Award in America

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By Garmondyu Zogar, contributing writer

MONROVIA – Ambassador Bill Rogers, who fought against poverty and the Liberian Civil War and went on to lift the Liberian flag high in the world through athletics, has been named an honoree for the prestigious Nelson Mandela Freedom Award in the United States of America.

Rogers will receive the award later this year on July 25 as part of “We Dream in Color” Humanitarian Celebrations scheduled to be held at the DuSable Museum of African History in Chicago, Illinois, according to the event’s founder Dr. Quinton de’Alexander in a Facebook post last week Monday.

The post said “Overcoming a [14-year] civil crisis in Liberia, where he was kidnapped and internally destroyed as a child, Ambassador Rogers found the strength and refused to give up until he became an agent of change in athletics. He competed at the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Youth Athletic Championships in Hungary 2001, went on to hold the Liberian national record for 1500m at 4:01.56 in Cotonou, Benin later in 2004.”

It added, “Today, through ‘Bill Rogers Youth Foundation (BRYF)’, he utilizes his dedication of excellence and special skills to empower disadvantaged youths in Liberia by encouraging athletic participation, organizing education and agriculture programs, and providing access to safe drinking water in rural communities. The BRYF has also provided exposure for talented Liberian athletes, connect them to various scholarship programs in the United States.”

Dr. de’Alexander, one of Chicago’s most reputable fashion designers, founded the ‘We Dream In Color’ Humanitarian Celebrations to shed light on survivors of various life’s challenges as well as honor exemplary individuals assisting to uplift and empower others through charitable, philanthropic and humanitarian efforts. It encourages people to ‘dream big and dream in their color’ uniqueness.

Named in honor of the late Nelson Mandela, the towering global symbol of freedom, the event uses the award to commemorate exemplary leaders who serve as a vital force for positive change in their communities.
“Thanks, again to mama Liberia and, especially, to all my American partners and friends who have vowed on my behalf to make me part of history,” the delighted Rogers said on Facebook. “I am grateful and humbled to become the ‘2020 Nelson Mandela Freedom Award’ recipient… This has re-energized me in my journey to keep moving forward and to be thoughtful about others positively.”

Coming from the grassroots, Ambassador Rogers’ journey inspires and restores hope to the downtrodden and has also left lasting impression on even prominent people. Rogers has also received numerous statements of recognition from high-profile individuals in Liberia and abroad.

“I commend you for your determination and Commitment to Liberia in light of your painful story,” then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said of Rogers in 2017.

“You have a gift in the ability to touch others as you have left a big impression on me,” said Magic Johnson, former NBA star in 2015.

“You combine your passion and your talent. That’s good, you know! When you can do that in life, it’s a beautiful thing,” said Christine Elder, US Ambassador to Liberia in 2018.

Bill will join ranks with reputable humanitarians like Mr. Tyronne Stoudemire, Vice President of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Hyatt Corporation; JoAnn Fakhouri, Founder of Capital J Productions, LLC; and Dr. Clyde Rivers, Founder and President of IChange Nations (ICN) and Honorary Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Burundi. He is the first Liberian to be named for the award.

The event promises to be colorful beginning with a ‘Red Carpet Meet and Greet’ at 6:30 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony. Gracing the occasion as special guests of Ambassador Rogers will be the three-time Liberian Olympian and trauma surgeon, Dr. Grace Ann Dinkins, who first discovered and groomed his athletic potentials. Other guests will be Ms. Norah Awuor, his former camp manager from the Olympic Development Training Center in Kenya.

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