LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 2, 2014 – Though the North Carolina A&T Aggies triumphed over their rival Alabama A&M Bulldogs at this weekend’s MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, the real winners were the thousands of fans who came to Central Florida to cheer on their favorite team during this annual celebration of diversity, higher education and football.
Players, bands, fans and the Central Florida community commemorated the 10th year of this Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) weekend of events, which has a positive economic impact across the region. Huddled around a football matchup and between the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the game aired on ESPN network and showcased the region to a national audience as it broadcast from Bright House Networks Stadium at the University of Central Florida.
“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney, it’s thrilling to be part of the heritage, community and educational legacy of HBCUs,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of corporate citizenship for Walt Disney World Resort. “We appreciate the HBCU alumni and fans who traveled to Central Florida for this exciting college football kick-off and four days of fun, inspiring community events.”
In the tradition of HBCU classics, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge is more than just a gridiron spectacle. The Labor Day weekend of events featured a variety of activities highlighting the contributions of HBCUs and their alumni, beginning with ESPN 101, a sports career panel for students held Thursday at Oak Ridge High School. The following day, 100 students from Edgewater High School attended HBCU College Immersion Day, a college and career fair at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort designed to familiarize students with higher education opportunities.
The fun continued with a welcome reception for teams and coaches at Epcot’s World Showplace, followed by a fan day and band showcase at Magic Kingdom Park. On the evening before the game, the annual Legends reception honored outstanding HBCU alumni for their athletic and academic contributions.
With many HBCU alumni among its Cast Members, Disney has sponsored the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney for seven years as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to diversity, education and community. The four-day event also draws thousands of football fans, which has a positive economic impact across Central Florida. Since its inception, the challenge has showcased 13 different HBCU institutions.