Internationally acclaimed actress, film and television star Jennifer O’Neill and Colette Murray, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golf coach, will be the keynote speakers for the April 21 Empowering Women event.
The fundraiser to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland will be held at Cleveland Country Club. The main event begins at 7 p.m. and includes dinner and Signature dessert, as well as an auction.
“It should prove not only to be a night of dedication to a wonderful cause, but an evening of fun as well,” said Janey Cooke, event chairman and organizer.
Throughout the evening, deserving women will be honored. The mission is to bring more awareness into the community that younger women need strong female role models. “By having women represented as role models in the lives of younger women, it will show them there are many worldly opportunities in today’s society,” said Cooke. “There are choices which can be made outside the realm of their own world just by being shown the possibilities.”
Cooke said, “We want to raise awareness by involving more women in our community to show not just girls, but all children that good role models are an important priority.
O’Neill, who is also an author, entrepreneur, spokeswomen, mother of three and noted among the most beautiful women in the world, — by any definition — is one of a kind. With 30-plus feature films, numerous television movies and series to her credit, she continues to be a major force in the industry. Currently, she is in post production for her new Hi-Def TV series, “Where Hearts Meet” and “Partners in Design.” Three feature films were released in 2008 and 2009.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, O’Neill’s career began when her family moved to New York City. She entered international modeling at 15 when a student at the Dalton School in Manhattan. The world of magazine covers led to other goals and an audition got her accepted in the Neighborhood Playhouse, New York’s school of acting. Her film debut came opposite John Wayne in “Rio Labo.”
By age 21, O’Neill was a leading actress, married and a mother. After her film debut, she accepted a role in “Summer of ’42,” which made Jennifer O’Neill a household name. Today, “Summer of ’42” is one of home videos’ most popular titles and has become a true classic with her performance hailed as legendary.
O’Neill soon moved to Europe and studied under Luchino Visconti, a master Italian director. She gave an award-winning performance in his final film, “The Innocent,” costarring Giancarlo Giannini. After returning home, O’Neill continued to star in a succession of profitable films. Her first TV Movie of the Week was “Love’s Savage Fury,” ABC’s top-rated movie of the year and her next TV project, “The Other Victim,” made the year’s Top 10 Films. This led the way for her own series, “Cover-Up,” and landed her a 30-year endorsement contract for CoverGirl, making it the top selling makeup line in the country.
O’Neill is a constant worker for charitable causes. She has served as chairman of the American Cancer Foundation and is a supporter of the Retinitis Pigmentosa and the Arthritis foundations. She is actively involved with the Jennifer O’Neill Tennis Tournament to benefit the SPCA and a fundraiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. She resides in Nashville and continues to train and show champion jumping horses. O’Neill has added a new dimension to her roster of talents, that of sharing life experiences in her autobiography, “Surviving Myself.”
In January, 2006, Murray restarted the UTC’s golf program, which had been dormant for some 20 years. It took her two seasons to assemble a team to complete at the sport’s highest level. In the second year, the Mocs finished eighth in the NCAA Central Regional earning their way into the NCAA Division I Finals where the Mocs finished in 21st, topping UC Irvine, Texas and Ohio State.
Murray prepares her teams for the postseason by playing an aggressive schedule. It is the norm for Chattanooga to play against the highest-ranked teams in the country. The 2009-10 schedule proved the Mocs were up to task. UTC claimed wins over six teams which ended the season in the top 25.
For her efforts, Murray was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year. That award was announced after the team captured its first Southern Conference Championship.
In her first season with the Lady Mocs, Murray’s squad won four titles with a second- and third-place finish as well.
Murray gained her coaching experience working as an assistant to Jacksonville (Ala.) State University head coach James Hobbs, a longtime, successful collegiate head coach. She is a 2004 graduate of JSU with a degree in general studies with a concentration in psychology. She was a four-year letter winner earning seven top-10 individual finishes and 15 top-20 finishes. Overall, Murray and her teammates claimed 10 team titles.
A native of Dunfries, Scotland, Murray was a member of the Scottish golf team. She represented Scottish National teams also for both lacrosse and soccer. She is nearing completion of her Pilot Advance Systems qualifications, Reaching Your Potential Inc., a program which relates personality with movement in discovering your own learning styles. A Titleist Performance Institute certified fitness instructor, she is undergoing Class A PGA qualifications.
Some of the main auction items at the Empowering Women event include a variety of week-stay vacation condos; Sunset Cruise on a yacht; dinner party by Ahmed Alshabibi; a five-star dinner party for eight by Pat and Gary Fuller, complete with limo — courtesy of Ralph Buckner Jr. — and boutique shopping with wine and appetizers; and an “Aviation Discovery” flight.
Sponsors of the event are Cooke’s Food Store, Don Ledford Automotive; Ed Jacobs and Associates Insurance, Panera Bread, Brenda Lawson and Associates, Bank of Cleveland and Ralph Buckner Funeral Home,
Tickets to the “Empowering Women” fundraiser are $100 per person. For corporate table information, contact the Boys & Girls Club in Cleveland at 472-6826 or Janey Cooke at 240-8391. Tickets are on sale at Cooke’s Food Store on Keith Street.