FLORENCE, S.C. – Christopher Gardner’s message Friday evening at the Future Entrepreneurs Foundation’s Igniting Innovation Gala was a simple one: Young people have choices and they are not doomed to live the lives seemingly dictated by statistics.
Gardner said he was receiving an award when one of the presenters gave a list of statistics that seemingly doomed people that grew up poor with an abusive parent to a life of poverty and the abuse of others.
When he got the mic that night, Gardner said Friday, he told the audience that “the extended version of that’s a lot of b.s.”
Gardner said so many people came up to him after he spoke at the awards banquet and told him that they were glad he said what he had because they had come from less than ideal circumstances as well and had made the choice at a young age to avoid becoming what they saw every day.
Gardner said his mother had told him that he could be anything that he wanted to be when he grew up. That he had the choice to either be violent like his stepfather or to become another person who was there for his children.
“You can perpetuate it or choose to go a different way,” Gardner said Friday evening at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology.
Gardner’s commitment to being a father is shown in the movie starring Will Smith that based on Gardner’s book, "The Pursuit of Happyness." In one scene, Smith’s character spends the night in a bathroom with his son.
Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers-Ervin also spoke at the gala. Her speech centered on the opportunities provided by education and how making the choice to get her education improved her life. Her speech also featured the 5W’s and 1H and how to use those questions to make plans to improve one’s life.
Florence School District 1 Superintendent Richard O’Malley gave another speech at the gala. His speech was focused on the opportunities and challenges facing the school district as he enters his first year as a superintendent. O’Malley also spoke of the importance of educating students, particularly minorities, to become entrepreneurs like Gardner.
Gardner is the co-founder of Gardner and Rich, a Chicago brokerage firm. Gardner is a motivational speaker.