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Saturday February 26, 2022 at TriPoint 

 Congress on Children is an opportunity to learn about the latest research and programs that address critical issues for our community’s children, a chance to network with other caring child advocates and to prioritize our efforts to ensure a bright tomorrow for all our children.

  Keynote Speaker - Michael Oher 

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Michael Oher knows what it takes to beat the odds. As a child growing up in the Hurt Village public housing development in Memphis, Tennessee, he began life with all the cards stacked against him. Violence, neglect, and near constant hunger were the ever-present backdrop of his childhood. He and his siblings were in and out of foster care and, at times, homeless. 

“Kids like me usually don’t get to see their dreams come true,” Michael said, “It’s sad, but it’s true. Happy endings just don’t happen in the ghetto unless you’re willing to make them yourself.” 

From the time he was small, Michael was determined to do just that, but he knows kids like him need more than a vision and the determination to reach it. They need caring adults to come alongside them in practical ways to help turn the odds in their favor.

That is why today, after a successful career in the NFL, Oher has created Beat the Odds, Inc., a foundation dedicated to empowering kids from hard places like Hurt Village to break the cycle of poverty and realize their dreams. 

Michael played football for The University of Mississippi, where he was an All-American athlete. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in Criminal Justice and was drafted into  the  NFL  by  the  Baltimore  Ravens  that  same  year. He  started  all  16  games  his  first  year,  helping  the Ravens  into  the  playoffs.  The  next  season,  Oher  and the Ravens won the Super Bowl. 

After five seasons in Baltimore, Michael played with the Tennessee Titans, and then the Carolina Panthers, for a total of eight seasons in the NFL.

Michael Oher’s incredible story of leaving Hurt Village behind to play football at The University of Mississippi is the subject of Michael Lewis 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007). His storyline in the book was subsequently adapted for the film, The Blind Side (Alcon Entertainment, 2009). The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category.  

He is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, To The Blind Side, And Beyond.

Michael has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, and The View.

   Afternoon Speaker - Holly Elissa Bruno 

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Holly Elissa Bruno, MA, JD, bestselling, award-winning author and international keynoter, served as Maine's Assistant Attorney General as well as Academic Dean at the University of Maine-Augusta where she was selected as Outstanding Professor.

Her expertise is on emotionally intelligent leadership, managing legal risks, and leadership during traumatic times. Her 6th book, Happiness is running through the streets to find you: Translating trauma's harsh legacy into healing (Exchange Press, 2020) sold out immediately.

23rd Congress on Children  PRESENTING SPONSOR 

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