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Friendsgiving: The Other Winning Outcome of Football Season Among Historically Black Colleges and Universities


As college football season comes to an end, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) brought focus on the value of giving during its peak time, which is homecoming and bowl games across the U.S. This year, Bethune-Cookman University made strides to engage all demographics during the 2017 football season. As alumni, family and friends traveled to Daytona Beach for homecoming and Orlando for the Florida Blue Florida Classic against Florida A&M University, guests were in anticipation of shaping memories, eating good food, dancing to the sounds of the Pride Marching Band and laughing to their hearts content.

B-CU hosted several events that brought wildcat fans and supporters during football season to the World’s Famous Beach and The City Beautiful. This past week, B-CU and FAMU made history and hosted the first “Florida Classic Awards” presentation during the 2017 Florida Blue Florida Classic Kickoff Comedy Show starring Cedric the Entertainer. The inaugural awards show took place on Thursday, November 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Walt Disney Theatre in the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando. The evening began with a VIP Pre-Reception for Orlando community officials, stakeholders, and guests. The awards show honored industry leaders from all over Florida who have made a significant impact in the Service and Leadership, Business, STEM and Education fields. Classic Award recipients included: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs; former Orange County Entrepreneur Harold Mills; Commissioner Mabel Butler; Hotelier Harris Rosen; and the honorable Judge Belvin Perry. The award is named in honor of former Disney executive Bob Billingslea, who was instrumental in working to relocate the game to Orlando twenty-one years ago. Dr. Billingslea, who passed away in September, was a long-time trustee of Bethune-Cookman University, and was the first diversity executive for the Walt Disney Corporation.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the Florida Classic Consortium, this past weekend’s events totaled over 60,000 attendees across the comedy show, Florida Classic Kickoff Luncheon, Battle of the Bands, and the Florida Blue Florida Classic Football Game. Thanks to alumni, student organizations, Florida Classic Consortium, and friends of the Institution, B-CU raised $323,526.42 for student scholarships during homecoming and over $1M from the Florida Classic that will go toward the University. Congratulations Wildcats on a winning football season on and off the field.

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Ursula James
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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship, and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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