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All Star Gospel Celebration

Casey Harrison
CEO, Polished Strategic Communications
Indiana

Step into the dynamic world where faith collides with visionary leadership—that’s where Tomeka Holyfield shines her brightest. After a successful corporate career unexpectedly came to a screeching halt, Tomeka was faced with an opportunity—find a new job and return to the daily grind, or chase a dream that would require her to shatter glass ceilings and step into a male-dominated industry. With unwavering faith, years of sweat equity, and a can-do attitude, Tomeka did just that.

“In 2006, life as I knew it was shifting,” Holyfield shared. “Having so many close friends and family members who were also professional athletes, I saw firsthand their commitments to service and community. I had a dream of creating an event that would celebrate service to others, using basketball as a vessel to do greater good in the world. Little did I know, I would create an event that has become a cherished tradition alongside All-Star Weekend.”

Building an Empire

Tomeka Holyfield’s journey from a home of boundless possibilities to becoming a powerhouse in motivation, entrepreneurship, and authorship is nothing short of inspirational. From her early days as a motivational speaker at Texas Southern University to founding The HELPPPPing Hands Foundation in 1997, Tomeka has consistently rolled up her sleeves to make a tangible impact. Her tenure as the executive director of the Evander Holyfield Foundation in Atlanta further showcased her dedication to empowering women and children through education and mentorship.

In 2006, Tomeka took a significant leap by launching The Helpppp Agency/HelppppMEDIA, a production company and strategic branding agency that has left an indelible mark on major sporting events and cultural moments. The expansion of her business interests in 2016 with Helpppp Agency Business Solutions demonstrated her versatility, while the creation of HAG- Helpppp Agency Group in 2017 consolidated her ventures into a multi-million dollar empire.

Tomeka’s influence extends globally through her motivational speaking, emphasizing enormous faith in achieving dreams and goals. Her widely popular uCAN uWILL uMUST Motivational Series has become a transformative force, resonating with individuals worldwide on the importance of reclaiming one’s life. As an engaging speaker, Tomeka’s captivating openings ensure her messages are not just heard but remembered.

Beyond the accolades, Tomeka Holyfield embodies authenticity, leaving no stone unturned from personal storms to red-carpet productions. Her transparent perspective, coupled with a results-driven approach, speaks volumes—surviving challenges and building a multi-million dollar empire is a testament to her ability to overcome all odds.

Now, approaching the 17th annual All-Star Gospel Celebration, created and executive produced by Tomeka Holyfield, it is clear that her visionary spirit continues to drive her toward new heights. This event not only reflects her commitment to positivity, passion, and enthusiasm but also serves as a testament to her ability to transform dreams into thriving realities. Tomeka B. Holyfield is not just a speaker, entrepreneur, and author; she is a force of inspiration and change, leaving an enduring impact on those who encounter her transformative message.

Celebrating Self-Made

When Indianapolis was announced as the host city for All-Star 2024, Tomeka immediately got to work. She quickly flew to Indy to begin venue visits. 

“When I arrived in Indianapolis, I was already buzzing and ready to get planning,” said Holyfield. “However, despite touring beautiful facilities, none of them seemed quite right. On my final day in town, with an impending deadline to secure a venue for coordination needs, someone suggested I visit the Madam Walker Legacy Center. Immediately, the suggestion felt divine.”

The choice of the iconic Madam Walker Legacy Center for the 17th annual All-Star Gospel Celebration was deliberate and profound. This historic location holds the legacy of Madam CJ Walker, a trailblazer who, ahead of her time, recognized the unique needs of the Black community. Her pioneering efforts in creating a tailored hair care system for Black women were not only entrepreneurial triumphs but also acts of community investment.

Madam Walker’s commitment went beyond profits; she reinvested in her community through scholarships, support for the NAACP, contributions to the Black YMCA, and backing charities uplifting her Black neighbors. Her legacy became a guiding light for the 2024 All-Star Gospel Celebration, emphasizing the importance of creating opportunities to celebrate and advance others—a legacy now interwoven with the celebration’s ethos. The magic of this event doesn’t stop there.

Housing in History

As event planning got underway, Tomeka arrived in Indianapolis a few months later for various meetings; one of which was with the hotel providing hospitality accommodations to players, personalities, and guests attending the 2024 event. While in town, Tomeka was informed that there had been a scheduling miscommunication, and the original hotel was unable to accommodate All-Star Gospel Celebration guests. Instead of panicking, Tomeka did what she does best—bundled up and braved Indy’s subzero temperatures to foster new partnerships. She unexpectedly found herself walking into the Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites suited on the Canal Downtown. She quickly learned that this redeveloped hotel was originally Bethel AME Church, the home church of Madam CJ Walker.

“While All-Star Gospel Celebration has been a business for me, so much of this event is guided by faith,” Tomeka said. “What could have been a disaster in lodging ended up yielding an opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in Madam Walker’s legacy from start to finish during the 2024 celebration.”

Honoring the Stars—and the Hometown Heroes

The 2024 All-Star Gospel Celebration promises to be a star-studded affair, honoring notable individuals like 4x NBA Champion Andre Iguodala and his mom, Linda Shanklin, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, and Indiana Pacers forward-center Oscar Tshiebwe. However, the celebration goes beyond NBA personalities, recognizing community leaders like actor and comedian Mike Epps and his wife Kyra Epps for their efforts in effecting positive change in Indianapolis neighborhoods.

“The individuals being honored during the 2024 All-Star Gospel Celebration are people deeply committed to service within their communities,” Holyfield explained. “From using name, image, and likeness (NIL) returns to build houses in their home countries, to refurbishing properties around their communities, to investing their time, talents, and treasures to various philanthropic causes—each honoree truly embodies what it means to be a leader off the court.”

The All-Star Gospel Celebration will also honor four Hometown Heroes who are dedicated to serving Indianapolis. Those honorees include Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, Angelia Stone founder of Hope Magazine, and Leslie Bailey founder of Maven Space.

During the concert, renowned gospel artists, including Dante Bowe, Koryn Hawthorne, Kelontae Gavin, and Angella Christie will grace the event with their performances, adding a soulful dimension to the celebration. As the curtains rise, the stage is set for a night that transcends entertainment–a night where a dream realized becomes a testament to the power of faith, leadership, and community.

“While All-Star Weekend is centered around basketball, through All-Star Gospel Celebration, we offer the community ways to engage with the festivities even if sports aren’t the draw,” Holyfield shared. “We invite the community to purchase tickets, get red carpet ready, and join us for a music-filled celebration.” 

An Entrepreneurial Educator

While Tomeka may not have envisioned entrepreneurship, she’s now become a thriving business founder and leader across the country—using her platform to build others up along the way.

“My path has been a hard journey, and I’m very transparent with others that entrepreneurship requires tough skin,” Holyfield said. “But I’ve always known I have such a passion for people coupled with a creative edge that inspired me to tell stories. I was willing to work at any cost to be able to pursue my passion and elevate others.”

While business has Tomeka jet-setting across the country, she’s intentional about investing her time in speaking engagements with youth, fellow entrepreneurs, and women in business. Her passion for helping others reach their fullest potential follows her in everything she pursues. 

Founder and CEO at Polished Strategic Communications | Website
Casey (Cawthon) Harrison has been a lifelong Hoosier since she was two years old. Harrison is a two-time graduate of IUPUI, most recently with her master’s in applied communication specializing in business media. Harrison currently serves as the vice president of marketing and communications with the Indy Chamber and recently celebrated her eleventh year as an associate faculty at IUPUI.

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