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Sharpie® joins forces with football great Howie Long to launch the 2005 Sharpie Retractable "Autographs For Education" Program

Jan 31, 2005

OAKBROOK Ill., January 31, 2005 -  Is your autograph worth $1 million?  Today, Sharpie brings the autograph experience to life, announcing a nationwide search for one million autographs in exchange for $1 million in school supplies and funds.  The campaign, called Sharpie Retractable "Autographs For Education," enlists celebrities and professional athletes to inspire everyone to put their mark on education -- benefiting students, teachers, schools and community-based education organizations across the country. Sharpie, the popular brand of permanent markers widely known as the autograph pen of choice, is teaming up with NFL Hall of Famer and Emmy Award-Winning Broadcaster Howie Long for a super-sized program launch in Jacksonville, Fla.  Long will kick off the "Autographs For Education" program prior to football's biggest game with a public appeal for signatures, as well as being the first to put his "official" autograph on Sharpie's quest for one million.  Additionally, he will spread the word about how schools can vie for $25,000 worth of school supplies and how individuals can contend for $150,000 in college scholarships.

"I'm a father, so I know how children, teachers and parents need to have the right tools to make the most of their education," Long said.  "Many schools lack even the most basic school supplies and parents are struggling to save for their children's future.  Today I'm asking everyone for their help  - with a simple click of a Sharpie marker and a signature, we'll score a million in no time."

Throughout the year, professional athletes and celebrities will rally together with Sharpie to host special assemblies across the country.  The 10-city tour will feature one-on-one interactions between students, teachers, parents and their heroes, giving them a chance to meet the personalities up close, as well as providing signatures on custom-designed, oversized autograph walls in exchange for school supplies and funds, thanks to Sharpie.

Sharpie Retractable Autographs for Education - Add One

"The Sharpie Retractable "Autographs For Education" program is the most comprehensive community effort in the brand's more than 40-year history," said Rory Leyden, president of Sharpie.   "Although we have executed this program on a local level since 2003, we've broadened its reach this year in terms of the dollar amount donated and the addition of college scholarships. We're certain we'll reach the million mark for autographs because of partners like Howie Long, as well as the mainstream support for the industry's most popular permanent marker."  

Pro Athletes and Kids Show "Signature Moves" at the Sharpie Retractable Clinic

Prior to football's biggest day of the year, several current professional football players will contribute to the Autographs for Education campaign in Jacksonville by leading the Sharpie Retractable "Signature Moves" Clinic for kids.  Athletes include Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver and Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez. The players will have some fun with students from Jacksonville's Duval Community School District, demonstrating signature end-zone celebrations like "The T.O.," the "Lambeau Leap" and the "End Zone Dunk."

The clinic will be held at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History today, to add momentum to the signature collection efforts and benefit the students.  The athletes will ask each participating student for his or her autograph on an oversized autograph wall.  In exchange, Sharpie will make a donation to Jacksonville's participating schools.

"After this kickoff, we'll visit hundreds of cities across America," Leyden said.  "We're fortunate to have a number of high-profile personalities who will visit schools in a select number of these cities.  Their goal will be to motivate the students, faculty and parents, ask for autographs and, most importantly, deliver thousands of dollars worth of school supplies and funds."

Sharpie Leaves its Signature on Schools and the Community - Autographs in Action

Sharpie Retractable's commitment to Autographs for Education includes resources for teachers and fun for students online.  From school supplies and scholarships to lesson plans and a virtual autograph wall, more information can be found on the Sharpie Web site, www.sharpie.com.

In the community, Sharpie's Autographs for Education tour will criss-cross the country in a fleet of Sharpie-branded all-terrain vehicles throughout 2005, stopping at local festivals and special events.  The vehicles feature interactive games, product sampling opportunities, and official entry forms for the signature collection effort.  Complete sweepstakes rules and entry methods can be found at retailers nationwide and at www.sharpie.com

Sharpie Retractable Autographs for Education - Add Two

Inspired after a Sharpie marker was featured in a high-profile and somewhat controversial touchdown celebration in 2002, Sharpie's Autographs for Education program has been bringing motivation, funds and school supplies to students, teachers and parents for two years. 

Since its inception, Sharpie Autographs for Education athletes have included Philadelphia's Terrell Owens, Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, Green Bay's  Donald Driver, Seattle's Grant Wistrom, Denver's Rod Smith, and Cleveland's Andre Davis, among others.

About Sharpie Retractable

With a retractable writing tip and no caps to lose, Sharpie markers are now easier and more convenient to use.  Sharpie Retractable is available in eight colors: black, red, blue, green, orange, berry, lime and turquoise.  The suggested retail price for 2-, 3-, 4-, and 8-packs are $4.89, $7.33, $9.78, and $19.56, respectively.  Available at office supply stores and other retailers nationwide, Sharpie Retractable joins other significant writing innovations that target a wide range of enthusiasts from the hobbyist to the do-it-yourselfer.

About Sanford®, Makers of Sharpie®

For more than 40 years, Sharpie is the popular brand of permanent markers long-associated with the autograph experience.  Sanford, maker of Sharpie, is a division of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. (NYSE: NWL), a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization, including such well known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, Foohy®, uni-ball®, and Rolodex®, among others.  Sanford makes more than 6,000 products, ranging from markers, pens and pencils to professional art products, fine writing instruments and office organization products. Visit sharpie.com or sanfordcorp.com for more information.

For more information contact Susan Wassel at 630-481-2018, or email media.relations@sanfordcorp.com