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Hamilton, OhioNot many people get the single-name treatment.

The Fitton Center opened it 2022-2023 Celebrating Self series with one of them Sept. 7.

Ickey – who didn't realize his real name was Elbert Woods until he started school - runs in some singular local company in that regard.

Obscure guys like Oscar. Like Pete. Like Boomer.

He runs alone in the Cincinnati Bengals record book, setting a mark that still stands for most rushing touchdowns in a season. Ickey’s 15 scores his rookie campaign helped the team to Super Bowl XXIII and turned an end-zone dance into a national craze.

First unveiled against the New York Jets after finding the end zone from five yards out to break a 19-19 third-quarter tie, Bengals founder Paul Brown was not a fan of the Ickey Shuffle. Even when it got an encore against the Jets after a second TD from 17 yards out in the fourth period.

But Mrs. Brown loved it and the Shuffle stayed.

Ickey had the Fitton audience laughing through stories about his football exploits. When he shifted gears to more serious matters - injuries, the end of his playing career - the crowd stayed right with him.

But when he got choked up describing the loss of his 16-year-old son to asthma, they could have heard the proverbial pin drop, even on the carpeted floor of the Carruthers Signature Ballroom.

“I will fight against asthma to my last breath,” he told a silent room. “Because it took away my baby’s last breath.”

Which is how Ickey found a new purpose in the Jovante Woods Foundation.

His efforts have resulted in more than $100,000 in donations for asthma research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The Foundation also encourages organ donation; Jovante’s organs saved four other lives and his tissue assisted countless others. And – given Jovante was a straight-A student – the Foundation provides scholarship money to high school seniors with asthma to help them on the college journey Jovante never got to take.

Attending with four generations – Ickey brought his mom, brother, youngest daughter and youngest grandson – underscored the family nature of the Celebrating Self series, which continues Oct. 5 in partnership with the Butler County Historical Society and Once City One Book Hamilton for Daughters of Yalta. (Tickets available here.)

But first, the Fitton Center presents the inaugural performance in its 2022-2023 Show Stoppers Series – Burning Down the House. Just Strange Brothers – the band that brought you David Bowie, Women of Rock and Elton John, to name but a few - take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, with their tribute to the Talking Heads.

Enjoy the evening’s signature cocktail – Heaven – during a helluva show that includes songs like “Life During Wartime,” Psycho Killer,” and the title track. Tickets for Burning Down the House are available online right here, by phone at 513-863-8873, ext. 110, or in person – Normal price is $39 ($32 for Fitton Center members), but use the code JSB and pick up seats for $25.

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

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