‘Pursuit of Happyness’ Author to Speak at Grand Opera House

April 19, 2007

Event Contact:
(478) 301-2868

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON — Christopher Gardner, whose life story served as the basis for the hit movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” featuring Will Smith, will speak Saturday on Mercer’s Grand Opera House at 7 p.m.

The event is open to the public and is free with Mercer ID or $5 for general admission, with all proceeds benefiting The Macon Coalition to End Homelessness.  The event is co-sponsored by Quadworks, Mercer’s Center for Leadership and Volunteerism and the Student Government Association.

“We are trying to branch out and bring more educational speakers into our line-up, and Mr. Gardner is an inspirational educational speaker,” said Avani Gala, secretary of Quadworks, Mercer’s campus activities board. “By now, most people have seen or heard of the movie based on his life, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness,’ and people are excited to hear him speak about his inspirational story.”

The amazing story of Gardner’s life was published as an autobiography, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” in May 2006, and became a New York Times and Washington Post No. 1 bestseller. Gardner’s story also inspired the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which was released in December 2006. The movie was No. 1 at the box office its opening weekend.

Always hard working and tenacious, a series of circumstances in the early 1980s left Gardner homeless in San Francisco and the sole guardian of his toddler son. Unwilling to give up Chris Jr. or his dream of financial independence, Gardner started at the bottom. Without connections or a college degree, he earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds training program. Often spending his nights in a church shelter or the bathroom at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in Oakland, Gardner was the sole trainee offered a job at Dean Witter Reynolds in 1981. He spent 1983-1987 at Bear Stearns & Co., where he became a top earner, and then in 1987, he founded the brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. in Chicago.

Today, Gardner is the owner and CEO of Christopher Gardner International Holdings with offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Gardner is an avid motivational speaker, addressing the keys to self-empowerment, beating the odds, and breaking cycles. Gardner is also a passionate philanthropist committed to many charitable organizations.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
www.mercer.edu.
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