The 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration of Unity will be Jan. 15.

The annual event is set for 3 p.m. at the Cowley College’s Brown Center, located at 215 S. Second St.

This year, Lynn Gilkey, the executive director of Rise Up For Youth, will be the keynote speaker.

Gilkey’s work has focused on teenage girls and she also collaborates with the Wichita Public School District.

Her life journey did not start with outreach, however.

After years of substance abuse, Gilkey turned her life around, according to

The catalyst for change in her life was when she began attending meetings for Dress for Success.

Gilkey then received her certification in substance abuse counseling from Butler Community College.

She and her husband, David, later founded Rise Up For Youth, Inc. The organization is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is to inspire and motivate future generations to unlock their full potential through education, mentoring, and empowerment.

Gilkey began CLASS in 2008 to mentor teen girls in Wichita-area high schools. Both programs seek to provide young people with the tools they need to cope with difficulties in life and to succeed in adulthood.

Other highlights for the event will include:

  • entertainment provided by Clayton Crawford;
  • an address from Pastor Jack Dickson, of the Ark City Ministerial Alliance;
  • special music provided by the Arkansas City Middle School choir;
  • the National Anthem, as sung by Kahliyah Evans.