By Lisa Spengler
The journey is everything. And the journey of having Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz speak at a special one-night event on Monday, April 30, at Atlantic Christian School has been quite the journey — not a journey of travel but a journey of faith.
“Each year, we choose someone who is an outstanding role model for our students and our community, and a beacon of light for Christ,” said Chief School Administrator Karen Oblen.
“The mission and ministry of Atlantic Christian aligned with those of Mr. Wentz,” Oblen said. “It was his character, commitment, and emphasis on education and service to others that drew our Events Coordinator Jessica Martin to contact Mr. Wentz’s agent last July.”
In 2017, Wentz launched the Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation. Its mission is to demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need. Carson’s foundation stands for “Audience of One,” his life’s motto of living for an Audience of One — Jesus.
Another glimpse into Wentz’s character that the school looked for in a speaker came in May 2017. Wentz and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews joined “Mission of Hope,” a Christian organization that seeks transformative change for the people of Haiti, and embarked on a weekend-long mission to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to serve people who had been ravaged by one natural disaster after another.
Now back to the journey.
The Eagles weren’t very good in 2016. They went just 7-9 in Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach. After starting the season off with a 3-0 record, they dropped nine of their next 11 to plummet to the basement of the NFC East.
Philadelphia Eagles training camp began late-July 2017, showing promise for the team and energizing the Eagles’ community. They were off to a great start at 8-1 but their schedule was about to get tougher and the controversy surrounding the National Anthem was intensifying. Would Wentz’s message be lost with the increase in people boycotting the season?
The journey of faith continued.
“We knew Carson would provide our students, staff, school families, and local community members with an exciting and inspiring message,” said Carole Karabashian, director of Development and Communication. “We still didn’t have a signed contract with Mr. Wentz’s agent, though.”
The season went on and the Eagles won more games. They kept winning, and winning … and well you know the rest.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Champion, was now in demand for speaking engagements and appearances throughout the country.
The odds for having Wentz speak at Atlantic Christian School in Egg Harbor Township, with an enrollment close to 500 children from 6 months to 12thgrade, were about as good as the Eagles winning the Super Bowl.
But Oblen and her staff remained in faith. “We prayed … a lot,” said Oblen.
“He’s a man of faith and he’s someone a lot of young people look up to. We wanted him as a speaker. It was about who he is, his character and who he stands for as a man of faith,” said Karabashian. “God had His hand in this journey of bringing Carson to our community. We didn’t receive confirmation that he would be our speaker until March.”
Almost nine months and one Vince Lombardi Trophy later, the journey for Atlantic Christian School and Carson Wentz will conclude on Monday. Oblen and Karabashian said Wentz will be speaking about his faith, football and the legacy he is building as a successful athlete and leader both on and off the field. The evening will be moderated by co-hosts of ESPN Radio Show “Faith on the Field.”
Tickets are still available for the Atlantic Christian’s 5thannual Legacy Gala, which is being held at the school’s campus at 391 Zion Road in Egg Harbor Township. The Legacy Gala program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium.
All proceeds from the Legacy Gala will support Atlantic Christian’s educational programs and scholarships.
Tickets may be purchased online at the school’s website at ACSEHT.org or at bit.ly/WentzGalaACS. For more information, call the school at 609-653-1199.