Local fifth-grader wins Major League Baseball essay contest

Eric Cox of Enterprise, Alabama has been chosen as a Major League Baseball 2009 Breaking Barriers Essay Contest Winner.

Eric is one of nine finalists to be recognized this year, from nearly 8,000 entries submitted.

An excerpt from Eric’s winning essay is below:

“My state of mind is unbreakable, and with God’s guidance I won’t fail. I have courage, lots of courage, just like Jackie Robinson. That courage pulls me through each and every day. So you see, I am like Jackie Robinson. We both had BIG problems, and COURAGE pulled us through.”

The contest is a major component of Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, a multi-curricular character education program now in its 13th year.

Developed by Major League Baseball and Scholastic, Inc., the program is led by Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

“Jackie Robinson played the game of baseball with a passion that could only be matched by the values and class he exemplified off the field,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.

“Major League Baseball is committed to the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life program and the thousands of kids it empowers through the story of Jackie’s achievements in baseball, both on and off the field.”

The Breaking Barriers essay contest was open to children in grades 4 through 8 in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and required that they submit an essay about a barrier or obstacle they have faced or are still facing in their lives, and how they used the values exemplified by Jackie Robinson to deal with those obstacles.

The values are commitment, integrity, persistence, citizenship, courage, excellence, justice, teamwork and determination.

Winners’ prizes include a laptop computer and a class set of the book, Promises to Keep, a photographic biography by Sharon Robinson who visited Eric’s school to speak to the students about her father.

“I was so moved by Eric’s courageous story,” said Sharon Robinson, who serves as Educational Programming Consultant for Major League Baseball. “When I spoke with him by phone, he was so excited to win the Breaking Barriers essay contest and I was pleased to learn of the support system behind him. I can not wait to meet this young man.”

“Over many years now, Scholastic has proudly joined Major League Baseball and the wonderful Sharon Robinson to continue bringing the story of Jackie Robinson to generations of children through our publishing, our school-based book clubs and book fairs, and this unique program, ‘Breaking Barriers,’” said Dick Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO, Scholastic. “Jackie Robinson, and his nine values, is an inspiration to children of all backgrounds who strive to overcome obstacles and go on to achieve great things.”

Breaking Barriers is one of the MLB-supported community programs that helps carry on the legacy of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier on April 15, 1947. Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers has reached more than 14 million youths and 2.6 million educators in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

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