Captain Phillips in Grand Rapids

Captain Richard Phillips in Grand Rapids. (May 2, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Capt. Richard Phillips will be the featured guest speaker at Davenport University’s annual scholarship fundraiser in Grand Rapids.

Phillips is attending the Excellence in Business Gala at DeVos Place Friday evening.

Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009 and became the subject of the film “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks.

24 Hour News 8 sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Phillips before Friday’s gala. He said his tale has a takeaway for everyone.

“We’re all stronger than we know, we can do more and we can take more than we think we can,” Phillips said. “A lot of times we worry about our personal or professional lives, getting things done, taking care of our kids, and in the end, we are able to overcome.”

Phillips said he was glad the film got Academy-Award attention for Hanks — who he calls a “great guy” — and for those who saved him.

“The U.S. Navy Seals and the military are the heroes in this, not me,” Phillips said. “My crew did a great job, but they’re the true heroes — the military — and as an honor I get to shine some light on them, the things they do every day we don’t hear about.”

Phillips said he asked for that the name of the film be changed to something other than “Captain Phillips,” because there are so many heroes in his story.

The captain is due back at sea in July, but said he’s considering retirement.

Phillips said he knows the spotlight won’t be around forever, and he’s okay with that.

“It’s be great to getting back to just being Rich Phillips,” he said.

The Excellence in Business Gala starts at 6 p.m. Friday.

Wolverine World Wide Inc. CEO Blake Krueger is to be honored with the 2014 Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award.

The Cook Award was established in 1998 in honor of the Davenport alumnus. It recognizes business and community leaders who exemplify entrepreneurial spirit, success and generosity to community.

Past recipients include Frederik Meijer, Betsy DeVos and Peter Secchia.

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