Martin Sheen: ‘Be Passionate’ about Boys & Girls Club at ‘Breakfast of Champions’

February 24, 2010
Santa Paula News

Friday’s “Breakfast of Champions” benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Clara Valley (B&GCSCV) promises to be the must-attend event of the year, with acclaimed actor and activist Martin Sheen, a former Club Kid, headlining the breakfast.

The February 26 event will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Museum of Ventura County Farm Museum, AKA The Mill, located on Railroad Avenue.

Sheen is considered an “All-Time Great” of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his accomplishments as an adult, but as a boy it was the Dayton, Ohio “Positive Place for Kids” and his club mentor, director Whitey Gates, that put him on that path. And, now as an All-Time Club Great, “We know Martin Sheen’s catchphrase for the National Boys and Girls Club campaign is ‘Be Passionate,’” said Santa Paula Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, a B&GCSCV Board director. 

“This is the perfect phrase that describes his life and career as well as the needs of our local club. Both our staff and kids are passionate about what the club provides and,” said MacKinnon, “we need the community to be passionate about supporting this great effort.”

Born Ramon Estevez - his mother was born in Ireland and his father in Spain - Sheen, one of 10 children, grew up in the South Park district of Dayton. Being part of such a large brood sometimes made it tough to get an adult’s attention, but Sheen and his six brothers spent almost every waking moment at the club that, with Gates, had a tremendous impact on their lives. 

Sheen grew from his days of being a Club Kid to become one of America’s most celebrated, colorful and accomplished actors and the winner of multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards, as well as a noted advocate of and activist for social justice and human rights.

B&GCSCV Board President Michael D. Hause said the response to Sheen’s appearance has been “very exciting, we have people coming from all over” to attend the event. “This is just huge for Mr. Sheen to do this,” an appearance Hause said resulted from MacKinnon’s invitation to the famed actor.

Hause said what many say about Sheen: “I’ve always been a fan, and ‘The West Wing,’” which starred Sheen as President Jed Bartlett from 1999 to 2006, “is one of the greatest series in television history. It was a great, thought-provoking program that took you inside the bastions of Washington, D.C. to see how it operated.”

Hause said he is “anticipating a thought-provoking speech” from Sheen at the club event. “His father was Spanish, his mother Irish, I’m sure that caused some issues in Dayton, Ohio in those days, and Mr. Sheen believes the club was fundamental to his success in his profession and as a human being.” 

As an actor, Sheen is known for moving flawlessly between artistic mediums, with an acting range described as breathtaking: he first made his name on Broadway in “The Subject Was Roses” in 1964, reprising his role of troubled Timmy Cleary (which had earned Sheen a Tony Award nomination) on screen in 1968. Now, Sheen is starring in the Mark Taper Forum revival (through March 21), this time playing Timmy’s father, John Cleary.

He has appeared in more than 65 feature films, including a star turn as Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark film, “Apocalypse Now,” his work in the acclaimed 1979 production bringing Sheen worldwide recognition. In addition to series television, Sheen has appeared in several acclaimed made-for-television movies and mini-series, the latter including his role as President John F. Kennedy in “Kennedy” (1983), for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.

Sheen was again the president in “The West Wing” which ranks as one of television’s most acclaimed - and most watched - drama series. From “Club Kid” to President of the United States wasn’t a stretch for Sheen, who to this day credits the caring Boys & Girls Club staff with providing mentorship and guidance when he needed it most.

Friday’s program will also include brief remarks by former Club Kid and staff member Jose Saucedo, as well as SCVB&G Club’s Youth of the Year Jose Ambriz. For more information on the February 26 “Breakfast of Champions” as well as seating opportunities, call Carole Power, director of Club Resource Development, at 525-7910.

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