Author Nicholas Sparks will speak at Florida Southern College May 10th. | Courtesy of Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is an author who can make his readers openly weep as he tells the true love stories of those close to him and the fictional tales of characters he has dreamed up.

Sparks has written 23 New York Times bestsellers, including “The Notebook,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Nights in Rodanthe.” Eleven of his books have been adapted for television or film and he has served as the screenwriter and producer for some.

Sparks will give the keynote address as Florida Southern College hosts its 8th Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon in support of The Roberts Academy on Wednesday, May 10.

Founded in 2010, The Roberts Academy helps students with dyslexia strengthen their reading and decoding skills. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties and can lead to extreme frustration and low self-esteem. Often gifted in many ways, children with dyslexia can face a vast array of learning challenges.

The Roberts Academy is the first transitional school for children with dyslexia in the state of Florida, and one of only a few comprehensive schools for students with in the entire country. In addition to academic programs for students in second through eighth grades, the Roberts Academy also provides support and training for parents and teachers of students with dyslexia.

All proceeds from the Mother’s Day Luncheon will benefit the school’s scholarship fund, allowing students without the means to attend the specialized school.

Born in Omaha, Neb., Sparks graduated as valedictorian of his California high school in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. His freshman year, he broke the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team, but he was injured soon after. During his recovery, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in business finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

In 1995, Sparks wrote “The Notebook” in his spare time, based on his wife’s grandparents’ love story. The next year, Warner Books published the book, for which they paid its then-unknown author an astounding $1 million advance. Since then, he has sold more than 105 million copies of all of his books worldwide, and they have been translated into more than 50 different languages.

This won’t be Sparks’ first trip to Lakeland. In 2016, he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Florida Southern, as he was invested as the 82nd Honorary Chancellor in school history.

The luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the George W. Jenkins Field House. Tickets for the event must be purchased before May 1. Register online or contact the Office of Advancement at 863-680-3000.

Florida Southern College officials said the event is expected to sell out, and no tickets will be available the day of the event.

Tickets are $95 per person, $1,750 for a reserved table of eight, or be a Table Sponsor for $2,750 and have the opportunity to participate in the meet and greet with Nicholas Sparks. Table sponsorship includes a reserved table of eight.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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