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LOS ANGELES, Calif. October 11, 2013 – Professional race car driver Milka Duno has been invited to join the Champions of Sports and Life panel when the St. Thomas University Athletics Department hosts its inaugural NAIA Champions of Character Panel Discussion on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at St. Thomas University in the Miami, Fla. suburb of Miami Gardens.

During the panel discussion St. Thomas University students will learn from successful individuals from the sports world on the application of the Champions of Character’s five core values of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership.  

Joining the panel as part of her Milka Way educational initiative, Duno was the first woman to win a major international sports car race in North America and later became the first Latina to qualify and race in the Indianapolis 500. She also holds the record as the highest finishing female driver in the 51-year history of the 24 Hours at Daytona. She has eight major race wins in the highest classes (Prototype) in the American Le Mans Series and Grand American Road Racing Rolex Series. This year she completed her first full season in the ARCA Racing Series, finishing seventh in the driver point standings to become the second highest finishing female driver in ARCA’s 61-year history.

A certified Naval Engineer who holds four master’s degrees - the last three earned simultaneously -and author of the award-winning bilingual children’s book Go, Milka, Go!, Duno has helped thousands worldwide through her Milka Way educational program.

Duno, along with International Tennis Hall of Fame member Butch Buchholz and former Miami Dolphins Player Judge Ed Newman, will headline the list of panelists who will share their life experiences with the students through the prism of the Champions of Character core values.

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, Buchholz reached No. 5 in the world as an amateur in 1960 and was U.S. Pro Champion in 1961.  Following his playing career, he became Executive Director of the ATP and the Commissioner of World Team Tennis.  He later founded the International Tennis Players Championships in South Florida in 1985. That event, today known as the Sony Open, has established itself as one of the world’s premier tournaments.

A member of the 1973 Super Bowl champions and a four-time Pro Bowler, Newman played offensive guard for the Miami Dolphins from 1973 – 1984 under Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time winningest coach.  During his playing career, Newman began studying law and today is a County Court Judge in Miami-Dade County.

Florida State Representative Kionne McGhee, St. Thomas University professor Debbie Goodman-Lerner, Boston Red Sox professional scout Wilie Romay, and Manny Tarich, Esq. will also serve on the panel.  ESPN and BIG 105.9 broadcaster Dave Lamont will moderate the discussion.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Fernandez Family Center for Leadership and Wellness on the St. Thomas University campus.  Approximately 500 attendees are expected at the event, including all 260 St. Thomas University student-athletes representing 12 varsity sports.  For more information on St. Thomas University, visit www.stu.edu. For more information on St. Thomas University Athletics, go to www.stubobcats.com.

About NAIA Champions of Character
Champions of Character was developed by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which formally teaches character through athletics at its member colleges and universities. Since 2000, Champions of Character has provided free training and resources to help those who work in athletics make character development a priority.  Since the inception of the program, St. Thomas University has been recognized as a Champion of Character Five-Star Institution by the NAIA for exemplary implementation of the program.  For more information on the NAIA Champions of Character program, visit naia.org

About Milka Way
In 2004, Duno launched her “Milka Way" program - whose mission it is to inspire children and students to “Aim for the Stars” and achieve academic excellence. As qualified Naval Engineer with four master's degrees - in Organizational Development, Naval Architecture, Aquaculture and Maritime Business – earning the last three degrees simultaneously – Milka believes strongly in the value and importance of a strong academic background. Duno has taken this message to children, students, parents and teachers at all school levels all around the world – including her home country of Venezuela, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and all across the United States. For more information about Milka Way please visit milkaway.com

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