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The firm was recently recognized as “Business Champion of the Year” by the non-profit adult literacy agency, Learn to Read. Howard Coker accepted this award at the organization’s annual “Celebration of Success” event. In the past year, the firm has acted as a corporate sponsor for Learn to Read’s major fundraiser, the “Scrabble Soiree.” Howard also served as a candidate in the agency’s fundraising “Kiss the Pig Campaign.” After raising over $20,000, he kissed a pot-bellied pig named Arnold in front of a highly amused crowd of Jacksonville Suns baseball fans — a true demonstration of solidarity with the cause of adult literacy.
Support for literacy runs deep for Howard. He and his family, including his daughter, Dr. Kelly Coker Daniel, his wife Fran Peacock Coker (the now-deceased author of an esteemed series of children’s books), and other members of the Peacock family, have worked in collaboration with Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton to create and support two important programs for children: “Rally Readers” and “Baby Rally.” Coker explains his passion for the cause: “If I had been deprived of the ability to read, I could not have pursued a career in law. Reading is a necessity for life in the 21st century – no one should have to go without it. Thinking about that makes it natural for me to do all I can for adults and children in this regard.”
Howard Coker took the top spot in the race to raise funds for the benefit of the non-profit adult literacy agency, Learn to Read, Inc. His agreement to be a contender in the “Kiss the Pig for Literacy” campaign was in keeping with his ongoing commitment to the cause of literacy.
Howard was one of eight candidates in a contest that ultimately yielded over $68,000 — banner results for Learn to Read. His prize was the right to name which of his competitors would have to kiss Albert, a Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig. Fellow Jacksonville attorney and life-long friend, Moses Meide, Jr. was the first runner-up in the contest and the person Howard most wanted to kiss the pig.
However, Howard showed his sportsmanship and concern for the cause by agreeing to kiss Albert at the final awards ceremony. He explains: “Those that know me know I like to win – I am glad that happened in this case because the real winners are those members of the community who will get the benefit of the life-changing services that Learn to Read provides. That even made kissing a pig named Albert worth it.”
In addition to literacy for children, our firm is actively supportive of the cause of adult literacy. Working to raise funds for the non-profit agency Learn to Read, Inc., continues to be a focus for us. For the past three years, we have acted as a corporate sponsor for Learn to Read’s “Scrabble Soiree” — the agency’s largest fundraising event annually. It’s an evening of literary high jinks and high-word scores as teams of local businesses compete with each other for the top score, and the right to claim the trophy, at least until the next Soiree is held. Last spring our team, which included Leigh-Anne Morrill, Becky Biastre, Greg Oboikovitz, Carol Cenci, Kim Chewning, Rachel Parker, Jennifer Matchus-Brown and Tracy Thompson, won the scrabble competition on their second outing, facing off with some very experienced players. The team is now gearing up for the next event, all in the name of fund-raising for the cause.
In the spirit of competition, the firm is actively engaged in Learn to Read’s other key fundraising event, the 2007 “Kiss the Pig for Literacy” Campaign. Howard Coker has volunteered to be one of the eight Jacksonville professional and civic leaders who are candidates in this race to see who can raise the most dollars, and win the right to kiss a real live, pot-bellied pig, at the April 29th Jacksonville Suns Game. Actually, this year there are new rules for the contest. For the first time, the winner gets to pick the person who will kiss the pig from his fellow candidates. “I am very happy about this change in the rules,” said Howard Coker. “I plan to win and I DO NOT plan to kiss a pig, no matter how well-behaved it is.”
The eighth annual Scrabble Soiree, sponsored by Learn to Read, Inc., welcomed about 100 players “on board” Thursday, March 16, at the St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville. Our firm acted as a top corporate sponsor for the non-profit literacy agency’s biggest fundraising event of the year. In addition, we had an enthusiastic group of eight staff members on hand to compete with teams from other businesses and organizations for the top scoring Scrabble board – all in support of adult literacy.
High-scoring word strategies in place, teams faced off during a fierce, fast-paced competition. Playing on our team in this fight to the finish were Carol Cenci, Rachael Parker, Becky Biastre, Leigh-Anne Morrill, Kim Chewning, Tracy Thompson, Jennifer Matchus and Greg Oboikovitz, a former staffer, rounded out our crew. When all the words were formed, down to the last consonant, our team emerged the victor, with a winning score of 2300. The second and third place winners came in at 900 and 500 points respectively.
For such prowess in playing team Scrabble, our illustrious team took home “goody bags,” a brand new Scrabble board and “the sheer delight of winning.” They also earned the coveted (think Oscars) Scrabble Soiree Trophy.