Former Bengals star Ickey Woods to speak at ‘Celebrating Self’ lunch at Fitton Center

Credit: Dolce Vita Photography

Credit: Dolce Vita Photography

HAMILTON — The Jovante Woods Foundation featuring former Cincinnati Bengals star Elbert “Ickey” Woods will kick off the Fitton Center’s 2022-2023 season as part of the “Celebrating Self” speaker series.

“Obviously, Ickey Woods is a Cincinnati legend, one of the great Bengal’s players, and the heart and soul of an organization as you’ve seen recently with their great success last season. He was one of the people the organization put front and center, accepting trophies and things like that was Ickey, and there’s a reason for it. He’s a crowd favorite,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton.

“He has an incredible manner and nature about him. He’s so friendly and outgoing, and he’s an absolute fan favorite, but beyond that he’s had some true family tragedy with the passing of his son Jovante from asthma,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

With the loss of their son, Jovante, and the tragedy they faced, Woods and his family have created the Jovante Woods Foundation ( The Jovante Woods Foundation has a threefold mission of bringing awareness to asthma, organ donation and education. Jovante Woods passed away on Aug. 14, 2010, at the age of 16, from an asthma attack.

“A big part of what we do with ‘Celebrating Self’ series is bringing interesting people to the microphone with stories to tell,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “We wanted to have Ickey come and speak about his foundation, his son, about the challenges, and to bring some light to the challenges that come with asthma, and particularly for him, the incredible tragedy of losing a child. We wanted to bring that to the Hamilton community and start our season off with that.”

The Jovante Woods Foundation featuring Ickey Woods will be at the Fitton Center at Wednesday. Tickets for the event include a buffet lunch and local live music. A talk and a Q &A with audience members will round out the luncheon.

“We are very privileged to have Ickey here, and we’re excited about it,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

He said, “We want interesting and engaging characters. I could call some of the speakers on this series ‘in plain sight.’ Ickey is famous from the football, from his television commercials, and being a football personality, from his work with the Bengals going to the Super Bowl, so everybody knows about Ickey and sees Ickey, and all of that, but they don’t always know his story and what’s being going on.”

Those kinds of things are bringing more depth and insight to the “Celebrating Self” series.

“This is a great opportunity to get to know Ickey. More than the football player and the personality, and to get to know him and his family, and highlight something important in the community about asthma, how that’s affecting children and families and the great work that the Jovante Woods Foundation is doing with local hospitals to take that forward,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

Other speakers on the “Celebrating Self” series this season will include Hamilton’s One City One Book “The Daughters of Yalta” on Oct. 5; Holocaust Survivor Dr. Al Miller on Nov. 2 (Election Day); “Christmas Lunch with the Buckeye Santas” on Dec. 7 and Tisha Livingston, co-founder of 80 Acres Farms and CEO of Infinite Acres on Jan. 11, 2023. The programs all begin at 11:30 a.m.

The iconic “Ickey Shuffle” touchdown dance was born in 1988 and it helped to make Woods a national sensation when the Bengals went to the Super Bowl. Woods invented one of the most beloved touchdown celebrations in NFL history. The “Ickey Shuffle” has also appeared in Geico commercials and made a comeback earlier this year when the Bengals went to Super Bowl.

Woods, a running back/fullback, had 15 touchdowns as a rookie in 1988. He was named an “All Pro,” and his 15 touchdowns are still the most in any single season in team history.

How to go

What: “Celebrating Self” featuring the Jovante Woods Foundation with Ickey Woods

When: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

Where: Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton

Cost: Tickets for the event are $19 for members; $25 for non-members. Tickets are available advance at the Fitton Center, or online. Event sponsor: Mercy Health – Fairfield Hospital

More info: or (513) 863-8873 ext. 110

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