Before retiring in 2000, Joetta Clark Diggs was considered America’s premier middle distance runner for over three decades. Some experts call her The G.O.A.T. of 800m running. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Clark Diggs was ranked among the elite American runners for over 20 years and ranked Top 10 in the world nine times.
“For 28 years I ran and was at the top of my career 15 years of that time,” Clark Diggs said in an exclusive with The Shadow League back in February. “What that meant,” she elaborated, was that a lot of hard work, focus and dedication went into being at the top of my game for such a long time.”
The former Olympian is now a highly sought-after motivational and inspirational speaker who shares her talents and unique experiences at sports, marketing, consulting and public speaking seminars for organizations across the country. Of late, the 2014 NJ Hall of Fame inductee has been devoting her energies to organizing the 9th annual Joetta Clark Diggs Sports Extravaganza, a black tie affair to be held Friday Sept. 19th at its new location, the Hyatt Regency in her hometown of New Jersey.
Legendary track and field athletes, pro sports giants and socially-active pillars of the New Jersey community gather to support the Joetta Clark Diggs Sports Foundation (JCDSF) and the kids who benefit from it.
“This year has been a little bit more involved on my end because we have a new venue,” Clark Diggs told The Shadow League on Thursday morning. “So when you change the venue, a lot of things change as well. So, I’ve had to be more hands on than I usually am because there’s new sponsors, new people involved, new relationships developing…a lot of newness. In the past eight years, after the first two years I really didn’t have to do much at these events because the program kind of worked on its own and I had a committee doing those things. Now with bigger sponsors they want to see me and hear from me more. “
In the past, the Sports Extravaganza has hosted former NFL players such as Bart Oates and Harry Carson (NY Giants), and track & field heavyweights such as Bob Beamon, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Edwin Moses, Gail Devers and Roger Kingdom.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the major sponsors for this year’s event which continues the tradition of packing the house with over 400 guests. Among the confirmed big dawgs are:
Olympians Hazel Clark, Jearl Miles-Clark, Michael Conley, Sr. (father of NBA star Mike Conley Jr.), Greg Foster, Dwight Phillips and Candy Young.
Entrepreneurs, educators and other pro athletes will be in attendance as well: Carol Higgins Clark, New York Times Best Selling Author of the Regan Reilly Mysteries , Dawn Fitch, Founder of Pooka Products, A line of Natural Bath & Body Products, Deon Grant (NY Giants Super Bowl Champion), heavy weight boxing legend Larry Holmes, Kevin Laue, the first one-armed player in the history of college basketball, former NFL star Raleigh Mckenzie (Washington Redskins) and Negro League baller James “Jim” Robinson, who signed a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1954-1955. And was Captain of the mythical Kansas City Monarchs franchise in 1957- 1958.
As President of Joetta Sports & Beyond, LLC, Joetta delivers messages of health, fitness and empowerment to corporations, colleges, medical programs and civic organizations. She works diligently raising funds to provide free fitness, track & field camps and life skills programs for children throughout the country.
Joetta is a staunch believer that “there is a direct correlation between health, fitness and education, so what we try to do,” she says, “ is make sure that the fitness component is still in school and that will help the kids academically.”
Events like The 9th annual JCD Sports Extravaganza attract those people who share her philosophies on life, fitness, health and success, and want to continue to keep sharing Joetta’s winning formula with future generations.
With a night so grand, philanthropic, elegant, genuine and socially-embracing it would be hard to pick one highlight. The media Red Carpet will start at 4:30 pm. Interviews and photos will be taken of the distinguished guests. Then the VIP Reception Sponsored by Horizon NJ Health is from 6:00pm-7:00pm. Then the Dinner Program, Auction and Rug-cutting lasts from 7:00pm – 10:00pm.
When asked however, Clark Diggs didn’t hesitate to predict what the night's shining moment would be.
“Being that it’s my event I’ll say when I walk in the room,” she chuckled. “No, really the highlight will be just people getting together and supporting the women’s foundation. Us highlighting what we have done over the last year and seeing everyone come in there to find out what we’re doing and to see the student athletes and just show genuine support for our mission and efforts."
"We have The NJ Hall of Fame mobile museum that will be on sight at the event. Legends that are second to none will be there. It’s one of those things that will take shape and you can plan, but the night kind of takes on its own personality.”