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Famous Author Lecture and Lunch Series:

Arshay Cooper

Monday, January 8th, 2024

Doors: 11:30pm

Event: 12:00pm – 2:00pm

SBDAC’s Grand Atrium

*General Admission: $45

Table of 8: $360

*General Admission is first come first served seating

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Enjoy a lunch, lecture, Q&A, and book-signing with bestselling authors on four Mondays, January through April 2024. The Famous Author Lecture Series brings national and international bestselling authors to Fort Myers, enriching the community with high-quality literary experiences. These 2-hour events invite guests to meet and listen to best-selling authors sharing their experiences and offering insights into their works all while enjoying a delicious lunch catered by Frisco’s, followed by a personal book signing opportunity.

About the Author:

Arshay Cooper is a Rower, Bestselling and Award-winning Author, A 2x Golden Oar recipient for his contributions to the sport of rowing, a motivational speaker, activist, and the protagonist of the film A Most Beautiful Thing. (Executive produced by Academy-Award and Grammy winner Common; NBA stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade, the Winklevoss Twins, and Olympian Mary Mazzio) The film is now in development for a scripted TV series. Arshay grew up on the West Side of Chicago in a community surrounded by gangs in drugs. In 1997 he joined (and later became captain of) the country’s first All-Black high school rowing team at Manley High School, an experience that changed his life. He then dedicated two years of his life to AmeriCorps, focusing on DE&I, and soon after that attended Le Cordon Bleu, becoming a personal chef for World Wrestling Entertainment, Warner Brothers film sets, and professional athletes. After years as an entrepreneur in the food service industry, Arshay returned to his true passion: working with young people. He founded the NY East Side Rowing Club and worked as the national youth program guidance counselor for Victory Outreach International. Arshay has also help started several rowing programs for low-income youth across the country, anywhere a puddle of water exists, so that other young people can experience the profound change that can happen on the water. Arshay is the founder of the National Award-Winning Non-Profit, The A Beautiful Thing Inclusion Fund, which introduced thousands of under-resourced youth to the sport of rowing. Arshay’s mission has sparked the MLK Day of Service “DAY ON” for collegiate and high school sports teams across the country and community rowing events between local Police and community members. 

Arshay message has spread all across the world, speaking for the members of Congress, the NBA and WNBA, the NAACP, the Obama Foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus, and professional sports teams (including the Oakland A’s, the Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Dolphins, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Chicago Bulls.) The British, New Zealand, Australian, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Egyptian, Turkish, Canadian, and other Olympic teams are supporting Arshay and the film profoundly, including creating new charitable organizations and initiatives with under-served communities. Universities and athletic directors across the United States (from Morehouse and other HBCU institutions to the University of Washington to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) are all hosting events with Arshay. Arshay has spoken at UPS, Bank of America, Target, JP Morgan, Delta Airlines, Starbucks, Microsoft, and many other companies hosting conversations around the film, digging into access and opportunity and the importance of bringing people together. 

The book was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and won the 2020 Nautilus Award. The film has won the 2021 Gracie Award, was nominated by the NAACP for an Image Award, was nominated by the Critics’ Choice Association for Best Sports Documentary, was nominated by the International Press Academy for Best Documentary, and was named one of the best films of 2020 by Esquire, A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING (executive produced by Academy-Award and Grammy winner, Common; NBA stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade; and directed by Olympian Mary Mazzio) chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country, made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, all coming together to row in the same boat. An amazing story. Based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper. The film is currently streaming on Peacock and Amazon Prime, and a scripted series is now developing with Amazon Studios. Arshay and his work have been featured in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, BBC, Men’s Health, Sports Illustrated, Hollywood Reporter, Chicago Tribune, BET, NPR, and many others.


Wedge Salad with sourdough rolls and butter


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