Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo and Dunwoody Cheerleaders Kick Off Chesnut Challenge Fundraiser for STEM

Chesnut Charter Elementary School’s new fundraiser, the Chesnut Challenge, kicked-off with a pep rally on Thursday, September 18th with surprise appearances by the Dunwoody High School cheerleaders, who wowed students, parents and faculty with amazing stunts and cheers written specifically for Chesnut, as well as by 8-time NBA All-Star, 4-time winner of NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and former Atlanta Hawk, Dikembe Mutombo. 

Mr. Mutombo has not only had an accomplished basketball career, but he also graduated from Georgetown University where he was on an academic scholarship, speaks 9 languages, and has won multiple honorary degrees, good citizenship awards and recognition for his humanitarian efforts. Since 1997, he has been Chairman and President of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is where Mr. Mutombo was born. Mr. Mutombo shared stories with the students, laughed with them and took their questions. The main message he delivered, however, was the tremendous importance of education. The 7’3” superstar reminded the students never to limit themselves – they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.

"We are extremely grateful for the time and unrivaled contributions that were made to our pep rally by Mr. Mutombo, as well as by the Dunwoody cheerleaders and their coach, Gayle Hard.  Their support of Chesnut and their confidence in our students’ success instill even more school spirit into our 450 students,” said Chesnut’s Principal, Veronica Williams.

The theme for this year’s Chesnut Challenge is “Stepping Up For STEM.” The funds raised will be directed toward Chesnut’s increased emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and will go toward Chesnut’s new STEM lab, including an interactive ActivTable and tablet PCs.

The Chesnut Challenge is the school’s first major fundraiser that is being produced entirely in-house by Chesnut parent volunteers. With previous fundraisers, outside fundraising companies kept up to 48 percent of the donations. With Chesnut volunteers producing this event, 100 percent of the tax-deductible donations will go back to the school – and toward STEM - through the Friends of Chesnut Foundation.

On October 2nd, after two weeks of the students raising donations to sponsor their participation in the Chesnut Challenge and winning prizes for their fundraising results, they will participate in the Chesnut Challenge – a funrun-style event in which they will jog, walk, skip and dance around a track. This event is also in keeping with Chesnut’s emphasis on wellness - tying into increased physical activity.

“For parent volunteers, the fact that 100 percent of the funds our children raise will go toward STEM at Chesnut motivated us to produce the fundraiser ourselves,” said Melissa Marion-Landais, Chair of the Chesnut Challenge. “A tremendous amount of work and time have been put into producing this fundraiser, but we stand behind the importance of STEM and support our administration and faculty’s efforts to become STEM certified.”

Community supporters interested in contributing to the Chesnut Challenge may contact Melissa Marion-Landais at

Dikembe Mutombo with Chesnut Principal Mrs. Williams

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