NFL Comes to Town

Vail Stewart Rumley | Washington Daily News

TAKE A SHOT: Javier Arenas (cornerback, Arizona Cardinals) guards one of the Washington Police and Fire-Rescue-EMS players trying to take a shot.

C.J. Wilson, Terrance Copper, Vonta Leach, Dexter McCluster. Dwayne Harris, Jamar Newsome, Donnie Avery, Mardy Gilyard. Jason Horton, Shaun Draughn, Dwayne Bowe. Steven Baker, Junior Hemingway, Josh Bellamy.

Who are they? If you don’t already know, they are a Green Bay Packer, a Baltimore Raven, a Dallas Cowboy and a whole lot of Kansas City Chiefs. Call it an outreach weekend, but they’ll all be in town at the invitation of Washington native and Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Terrance Copper — it’s his way of giving back to the kids in the community.

Three free events pave the way to meet the players: on Friday, the first is “NFL Day” on the Washington waterfront. Later that night, Washington High School hosts an exhibition basketball game between the pros and Washington Police and Fire-Rescue-EMS personnel. Saturday, they’ll be running drills and drumming up inspiration at a football camp, for boys, and girls, ages 7 through 17.

LITTLEST FANS: Two boys react to the action on the court at last year’s Police vs. NFL players game at Washington High School.

“We’ve got over 100 kids signed up for the camp,” said Kimberly Grimes, outreach coordinator for the Washington Police Department and one of the NFL weekend’s organizers. And that doesn’t include the 60 children being bused in from Raleigh as well as the many last-minute additions, she added.

While all these events happened Father’s Day weekend last year, this year Grimes teamed up with Mac Hodges of the Beaufort County Pirate Club and, with help from the Beaufort County Police Activities League, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Beaufort County, local Boy Scouts and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, put the pieces into one powerful NFL package.

“In all actuality, this is the first year we’re pooling all our resources. We’re doing all our parts to make it successful,” Grimes explained. “This year and ongoing, we’re working together … working together for the betterment for the community.”

For Grimes, that’s incorporating the NFL weekend with Project Second Chance, a program for at-risk youths. For Hodges, it’s a chance to bring some of the old Pirates who’ve carved out professional football careers for themselves—Copper, Belhaven native Green Bay Packers’ C.J. Wilson, Superbowl champions Baltimore Ravens’ Vonta Leach, the Cowboys’ Dwayne Harris, and the Chiefs’ Steven Baker are all ECU alumni.

For others, like PAL President Al Powell, it’s a way to expose children to the inspiring stories the NFL players will bring with them, as well as serve as an introduction to the Boys Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, all of which will have informational booths set up at NFL Day.

“We’re looking at the bigger picture — that so many kids are benefitting from this,” Grimes said.

Though the Washington Police, many Pirate Club donations of food and supplies, and a grant from the NFL for mini-footballs the kids can have autographed, have paid the brunt of the costs, Grimes said that the NFL weekend and a chance to put stars in these kids’ eyes wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Copper.

“He is so awesome. I’m really impressed with how much he does,” Grimes said. “Sometimes you think it’s just your program, but it’s not. He does more than people will ever know.”

Grimes has done quite a bit herself, even roping the WHS dance team into doing a half time show at the exhibition basketball game. If last year’s fierce competition is anything to go by, the players will likely need a nice, long break somewhere in the midst of the battle for supremacy.

The Beaufort County Police Activities League (BCPAL) is now the Inner Banks STEM Center.

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