Less than 48 hours before their most important fundraiser of the year, administrators at Desert Christian Academy were scouring over names of high profile athletes to find a replacement for Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
The former Los Angeles Lakers star was scheduled to be the honored guest and keynote speaker for Saturday’s 24th annual Auction Gala at the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells, but the school was notified Thursday that Johnson would be unable to attend due to a family emergency.
After sifting through dozens of names, administrators believe they found the perfect replacement: Robert Griffin III.
Scheduled to be in the Los Angeles area for the weekend, the Washington Redskins’ quarterback will arrive in the desert Saturday evening and attend the event in Johnson’s place. The silent auction to benefit DCA will begin at 5 p.m., with a dinner following at 7 p.m. Griffin – also known as RGIII – is scheduled to arrive just before dinner.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have RGIII,” said DCA Head of School Debbee Scott via a news release. “His passion for life, his strong faith and his great reputation as a person and a player make him a great addition to our evening.”
In a phone conversation Friday, Scott said the school was looking for an engaging professional athlete who embodies the same faith-based ideals DCA promotes. After working with an agency that represents both Johnson and Griffin, Scott and Asst. Head of School Beth Young believed Griffin was the best choice.
Tickets for the event were sold for $150. Scott acknowledged there may be ticket holders disappointed about Johnson’s cancellation, but said she hopes they will be just as excited to hear from Griffin and that they will understand the circumstances that were beyond the school’s control. Scott said anyone asking for a refund would be accommodated.
Magic Johnson was in attendance at the Michigan State vs. Virginia basketball game Friday night in New York City.
What’s more, she said an influx of ticket requests were made Friday afternoon upon the announcement that Griffin will be in attendance.
“RGIII is a nationally known sports figure,” Scott said in the release, “and we are excited to hear his stories from the gridiron.
“But we are more excited because we known he is a strong believer in the word of God. His leadership skills are not just focused on football, but rather, are built on integrity, grace and faith. We can’t wait to hear his inspirational message.”