BRADENTON — As usual, Nick Bollettieri was in top form.
The 77-year-old bounded on stage to address 360 people at the Take Stock in Children Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Renaissance on 9th on Thursday and regaled them with anecdotes.
“Now, my biography of my life, the unedited biography, is coming out,” he said. “They interviewed several of my wives, that should be interesting.”
The audience roared.
Bollettieri reminded them about why their support of the Take Stock In Children program is important. The program provides scholarships, and mentors 170 students in Manatee County, said Doug Wagner, Manatee County school district’s director of adult career and technical education.
Each student who receives college scholarship money from the program is paired with a mentor for their secondary school career, he said.
They meet with mentors once a week for half an hour.
Many of the children would not have been able to go to college if it wasn’t for the program, Wagner said.
“It breaks the chain of poverty,” he said. “Chances are, they are the first ones in their whole family to go to college.”
For volunteers, whom the breakfast participants also honored, any students they can reach out to is crucial. A former teacher, John Friedricks, of Boyd Insurance and Investment Services, said he talks with his students about various matters ranging from how to deal with difficult assignments to how to ace a job interview.
“Anytime you can make a difference in a student’s life, it’s important,” he said.
Bollettieri reiterated his support for the program in his keynote speech, in between prayers and songs.
“Children are the foundation of our country and the world,” he said. “I know times are difficult but find ways to support this program.”