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August 22, 2001

Calvin Teams With Pathfinder

Calvin College and Pathfinder Resources, a local nonprofit Christian organization that provides substance abuse treatment to individuals throughout West Michigan, are teaming up to sponsor a visit to Grand Rapids by Bob Muzikowski, author of Zondervan's recently published book "Safe at Home."

Muzikowski will be in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, September 18 to speak on addiction and to describe his work with inner-city kids in Chicago. He also is also expected to challenge the authenticity of the upcoming movie "Hardball" which claims to be based on his struggle with alcohol and his work with inner-city kids.

While Muzikowski is excited that a major Hollywood movie can help raise awareness about substance abuse and the need to support at-risk youth, he is concerned about the language and behaviors in the movie, saying it does not accurately represent his life or the kids with whom he has worked.

His new book was written, in part, as a response to the movie, which stars Keanu Reevs as Muzikowski and is expected to open September 14, the weekend prior to his visit.

While the drama about an inner-city Little League program has a disclaimer at the end saying it is a work of fiction, Muzikowski maintains that it draws largely from a 1994 book about his work in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods. And he says the depictions are false.

"I have never been cursed out once," he says. "None of the coaches have been addressed like this. These kids are unbelievably respectful to their coaches." Chicago Mayor Richard Daley agrees, telling reporters during a recent public appearance that the movie ignored the children's positive sides and simply portrayed "these kids as saying four-letter words."

In "Safe at Home," Muzikowski talks frankly about his humble beginnings, the impact of his Christian faith and the vision and cost of developing a Little League program that would show urban kids how fun, love and commitment work together to make dreams come true.

A recovering substance abuser, Muzikowski is President of his own company, Benefit Planning Inc., an insurance and estate planning business with offices in Chicago and New York. He resides in Chicago, Ill. He is also the Board Director and owner of the Valley of Peace Farm, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

In 1991, he founded the Near North Little League in the Cabrini Green Housing Projects. He also founded the East Harlem Little League in 1993 and the Near West Little League (the largest inner-city league in the United States) in 1995. He was a recipient of President George Bush's 1991 Point of Light award for his work with the Little Leagues.

Muzikowski's visit to Grand Rapids will kick-off with a 12:30 p.m. luncheon with students at Calvin to be held in the Chapel Undercroft. He will speak again at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center at Calvin College. The evening event is open to the public, free of charge.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)