JACKSON COUNTY - This October Jackson County is in for a rare treat as nationally acclaimed actor and author Henry Winkler spends a day here on his first visit to West Virginia.  Elementary school students and area residents will get to know an entirely different side of Henry Winkler as he shares the work that has given him his greatest source of pride and accomplishment  - his series of children’s novels entitled, “Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Under-Achiever.”  

Most of us do not know that in addition to his award-winning acting career, Henry Winkler is also a New York Times best-selling author, producer, director and noted philanthropist, and he has been honored by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with an Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his work with the children with learning challenges.  

Winkler is beloved by all as “The Fonz” from the popular TV series “Happy Days.”  For the past 30 year he has worked in the entertainment industry in a wide variety of roles in front and behind the camera. In 2003 his career took yet another turn by adding “author” to his long list of accomplishments. He began writing a series of children’s novels entitled, “Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Under-Achiever.” The books were inspired by Winkler’s struggle throughout his education with dyslexia, which was not diagnosed until he was in his thirties. Winkler’s warm and witty Hank Zipzer 17 novel series has appeared on several Best Seller lists, including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times entertaining and inspiring children and parents all over the world.
“I had trouble reading books, so I never imagined I could write one”, commented Winkler when he was asked about the success of the Hank Zipzer book series.  

Winkler’s intellectual accomplishments will be the focus when he comes to Jackson County on October 16th to meet with elementary students and to address the community at the annual Jackson County Community Foundation Celebration Benefit at the Armed Forces Reserve Center Armory at Millwood.

“Just when we thought we cannot possibly match the caliber and star-status of our previous keynote speakers Homer Hickam and Kathy Mattea, we score another home run thanks to our generous corporate sponsors,” said Jane Winters, Foundation Regional Manager of Affiliates. “We have focused on West Virginia heroes over the past three years working to inspire and educate our Jackson County students. This year, we are thrilled to have an international star making his first visit to West Virginia to spend time with our school’s youngest students.”
Winkler’s visit is underwritten by Dickirson Corporation and coordinated by Our Community’s Foundation – Jackson County (JCCF). Many other corporate entities, individuals and community groups join in to support JCCF in its sponsorship of community grant projects ranging from health and education to recreation and the arts throughout the year.

“I am thrilled to be working with the Foundation again on its signal event,” said David Dickirson, president of Dickirson Corporation. “This annual celebration is amazing not only in how it inspires students and brings the citizens of the community together, but in how it demonstrates what we can achieve when businesses support the community foundation in significant ways.”  

Winkler will make at least two appearances at Jackson County schools, in addition to his Celebration Benefit address. He plans to do a book reading with elementary students focusing on the importance of reading and succeeding despite the odds.  “We never dreamed of having someone of Mr. Winkler’s fame and talent in our schools. I know that our students will be motivated by his inspirational story of overcoming challenges. We are looking forward to featuring his Hank Zipzer book series in our elementary school reading programs early in the fall,” commented Blaine Hess, Jackson County Schools Superintendent.    
Winkler’s portrayal of “The Fonz” for 10 seasons made him one of the most recognized actors in the world. He won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series; was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and Fonzie’s leather jacket has hung in The Smithsonian since 1980. Fonzie’s lunch box recently was added to the exhibit.

Winkler’s accomplishments aside from his most famous role as “The Fonz” would fill a library. In addition to his Hank Zipzer novel series, Winkler released the first installment of a new series entitled, “Ghost Buddy #1: Zero to Hero” in January 2012; published a collection of anecdotes and observations in 2011 entitled, “I Never Met an Idiot on the River,” based on his time fly fishing in Montana; and in 2010, joined the cast of the USA Network series “Royal Pains” as Eddie R. Lawson, a charming but long-absent con-artist father. Other recent appearances include a role as hospital administrator Sy Mittleman on Cartoon Network’s “Children’s Hospital,” and in the comedy about extreme wrestlers, “Here Comes the Boom.”

His credits as a producer and director include more than 20 TV series and specials such as, “MacGyver,” “So Weird,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Sightings,” “A Family Again,” “All Kids Do It,” “Ryan’s Four,” “Scandal Sheet,” and the ABC Documentary, “Who are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids?” which won the prestigious Humanitas Prize.

Winkler found he could use his position to help others, particularly children. Some of the groups with which he is associated include United Friends of the Children, Children’s Action Network, Toys for Tots campaign, The National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped, Special Olympics, and the Los Angeles Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival for Children. In 2010, Winkler was honored by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers for his work with the British Government on the “My Way!” Campaign – an educational initiative focused on raising awareness for children with learning challenges throughout the United Kingdom.

Henry Winkler was born in New York City and began acting at the age of 14. He received a bachelor’s degree from Emerson College in Boston and a Master’s degree from Yale University School of Drama. More details about Winkler’s visit and his accomplished career will be released this summer.

Tickets and table sponsorships can be reserved for the JCCF Celebration Benefit by contacting the organization’s office at 716 West Main Street (in the United Bank Branch Building); by calling the Foundation at 304-372-8588; or through email at jane.winters@pacfwv.com. Seating will be assigned (front row to back) for individual tickets and sponsorships by the date the confirmation is made. The Jackson County Community Foundation is a non-profit public charity created by local citizens to build permanent endowment funds and issue grants and scholarships to meet community needs. It is an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates.