NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Michael Vick is being honored as a hero next month at a black tie event for his "resilience in overcoming obstacles" and becoming "a true example of life success for all to emulate," according to event organizers.
"The term 'hero' is subjective," said Michael Muhammad who heads Southeastern Virginia Arts Association in Norfolk which is hosting the black tie gala at the Half Moon Cruise and Celebration Center. "People talk about Michael Vick as a convicted felon, well so was Jesus Christ yet he was able to do things above and beyond the naysayers to the point that we all recognize him today as Lord and Savior."
Vick, who fell hard from grace when he went to prison for running an illegal dogfighting ring, has since soared to new heights back on the NFL field, said Muhammad, making amends for his crimes. "Michael has gone [across] this country going to juvenille facilities, in and out of schools and youth groups, talking to young people not only about the detriments of dog fighting but also about keeping your life in order," said Muhammad.
Still though, should Vick be dubbed a hero, especially in a military town of soldiers, marines and other service men and women who are fighting wars and dying or coming home badly wounded?
Muhammad responded, "And there is so much honor given to them and honor is due them, but we also feel that the little man that doesn't get the opportunity to be honored, deserves to be honored and Micheal Vick is one of those."
The event brings up another point.
The old regime of SEVAA still owes a large group of police officers and Sheriff's deputies more than $33,000 in back pay for providing security at the last Afr'am Festival almost a year ago. Muhammad promised that proceeds from the Vick event will go to paying that debt in full. Muhammad also said his organization wants to hire off-duty officers and deputies to provide security at the Vick event in March.
An attorney for the officers and deputies told WAVY.com, "Personally I think it's excellent and on behalf of the officers we are all very optimistic that the event is going to be a success. We're hopefull it's going to be a success so the officers can be paid," said Martin Thomas Jr. "It's a good sign. Legally they could have started a new organization, forgotten about all the old debts and moved forward, but I think these gentlemen have good intentions."
Muhammad said, "We find that it's necessary and the right thing to do to work to rectify those debts and first and paramount in that is the debt to the Norfolk public safety officers."
WAVY.com also checked and discovered the City of Norfolk is not providing any financial support for the event. A city spokesman said there is no taxpayer money going to the event and Muhammad confirmed that.
The 1st Annual Black Tie Honors Gala presented by Southeastern Virginia Arts Association is set for Saturday, March 26th at 6:30p.m. at Half Moon Cruise & Celebration Center. Tickets are $100.
For more info: 757-333-9188 or SEVAA.email@example.com
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