Student gardeners throng Muhammad Ali in hometown
Muhammad Ali hugged children and posed for photos Tuesday during
an appearance to promote a charitable initiative to grow vegetable
gardens at schools around the world.
Students at John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School in
Ali’s hometown helped plant, nurture and harvest vegetables
representing popular cuisine around the world. Some of the
vegetables were served up at school on Tuesday, and others are
being donated to a local food bank.
The school’s project is serving as the prototype for a series of
”Muhammad Ali Center Peace Gardens,” which will aim to teach
children about nutrition and respect for different cultures.
About 600 children, preschoolers to fifth graders, filled the
floor of the Louisville school’s gym to cheer Ali, whose well-known
battle with Parkinson’s disease has left him mostly silent at his
infrequent public appearances. He was seated for the nearly
hourlong event and beamed when a child came on stage to talk about
His wife, Lonnie Ali, made a point about the importance of
accepting other cultures when she asked children to stand and
discuss their heritage. Children shyly said their families were
from such places as Bosnia, Russia, China, Nepal, Vietnam, Mexico,
Cuba and India.
Lonnie Ali told the children that learning about different
cultures is important as the world becomes more closely connected
through the Internet and other technology.
”Just because somebody is different and they come from
somewhere else doesn’t make them bad,” she said.
Later, Muhammad Ali posed for photos under a tree on the school
grounds. He hugged children, and one small boy playfully put his
fist next to the chin of the former heavyweight champion.
Yum Brands Foundation, the charitable arm of fast-food company
Yum Brands Inc., will provide $100,000 in grants during the next
four years to fund gardens at schools around the world.