World Series champion and music advocate Bernie Williams on May 22 received NAMM’s first Music Education Champion Award during the NAMM Advocacy Fly-In in Washington, D.C., honoring his service to the MI industry. The award was presented in ring form by NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond.

Williams described in his acceptance speech that attending the Fly-In is now the most important date annually on his calendar. 2019 marks the 10th time Williams attended the Fly-In. “I have requests to do hundreds of things throughout the year and I try to do the best I can,” he said. “The ESSA [Every Student Succeeds Act] passed in 2015. I had something to do with that. In 20 or 30 years from now, a kid from P.S. 138 in The Bronx will say, ‘Somebody thought it was important for me [to have a music education].’”

Williams added he was asked by a reporter what is more important to him: a great career in baseball or his music advocacy efforts. “There is nothing that compares with something that has to do with the education of our kids for years to come,” he said, choking back tears. “I wish my parents were here to see this. I know they are looking down on me and are very proud of me. I am very proud of them. They told me, ‘You can be in music, sports or anything else, as long as it’s legal.’ … This is one of the best things to ever happen in my life.”

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