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The Pursuit of Happyness author, Chris Gardner, to Speak at Benefit Luncheon

By Jeaneane Payne

the pursuit of happynessChris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness, will be the featured speaker at a luncheon during the 2011 Carry the Torch event. Honorary Chairs for the event are Jim and Natalie Haslam who support ending the tragedy of homelessness in Knoxville.

The Carry the Torch event is not only a fundraiser for its host agency, Volunteer Ministry Center (which is incurring all event costs), it is a means to educate the public that homelessness is a community problem. Opportunities will be provided for the community to become involved in the solution for homelessness.

The event will begin with a Mission Fair from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm which will have booths. Visitors looking for volunteer opportunities will have an opportunity to interact. The luncheon begins at 12:00 noon. A book signing is scheduled for 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

Carry the Torch will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center on May 10, 2011.

In his book, The Pursuit of Happyness, Gardner chronicles his long and painful journey from inner-city Milwaukee to the pinnacle of Wall Street. At the age of 20 and just out of the Navy, Gardner had his sights on a career in medicine. His weakness with women left him with a son and a period of homelessness on the streets of San Francisco.

As a fatherless child himself, he had made a promise to himself to never abandon his own children. He and his toddler son spent nearly a year moving among shelters, "HO-tels," soup lines, and even sleeping in the public restroom of a subway station.

Gardner never gave in to hopelessness and eventually made an amazing transformation from being part of the city's invisible poor to being a powerful player in its financial district.

In 2006, the movie The Pursuit of Happyness was released. The movie portrayed a simplified version of what life on the streets is really like.

ABC TV will be showing The Pursuit of Happyness in prime time in the United States on the night of Saturday, February 26. The movie will be followed by a re-airing of the 20/20 episode that first brought Chris Gardner's story to national attention.

Gardner has authored a second book, Start Where You Are. Start Where You Are expresses Chris Gardner's pragmatic advice and life strategies, motivating readers to claim ownership of their dreams and achieve their full potential.

Tickets will not be sold for the Carry the Torch event. Sponsorships are available. There are ten seats to a table and each table will have a Table host. For information on sponsorships and/or sponsored tables, you may contact Carney Ivy at or visit

Published February 20, 2011

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