Let the Kids Play Free may get boost

Published 12:33 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As her sons come home for the holidays, Barbara Wilson - shown above with her husband and extended family - knows the benefits of how sports helps youth everywhere as she was inspired to help with Kids Play Free. (Submitted Photo)

Wilsons also help young man attendcollege, play football

When Barbara Wilson read a story on the Washington Daily News’ website about the local Let the Kids Play Free initiative, she wanted to help the organization help more children by matching donations of $2,500 or more for the Faith Community Cook-off and Picnic set for June 4.
Wilson, administrative assistant and district agent for Modern Woodmen of America, contacted Catherine Glover, executive director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, after she read the story. Wilson told Glover she wanted Modern Woodmen of America to be able to contribute to Let the Kids Play Free by matching a grant the local program has.
“I’m very excited about donating to Kids Play Free,” Wilson said. “It’s a great vision, and I am so glad Modern Woodmen is able to support it.”
Let the Kids Play Free is about reducing poverty in communities, one child at a time.
As poverty, children and sports are the main focus for Let the Kids Play Free, Wilson added she and her husband know about the connection between the three. She and her husband have six sons. They took in another “son,” Chris Barfield, who needed help after his mother died.
“Chris was involved in sports, and we wanted him to live with us,” she said. “My two youngest sons played football for Cary High School with Chris. As soon as I heard that his mother passed away, it was like the Lord just said to me to take him into our home. His mother had been sick for a while, and I’m sure it was difficult for him to come home and have to see his mother like that.”
Barfield needed ACL knee surgery during his senior year, having it during Christmas break. Not long afterward, track-and-field season arrived. Barfield threw the discus. Through steady leg rehabilitation and determination, Barfield continued a trend — winning 4A-level championships for tossing the discuss.
When her sons’ football coach sent a videotape of her son, Bryan, to Fairmont State University in West Virginia, Wilson told the coach about Barfield, too.
Wilson said Barfield wanted to go to college and play football. Because his grades were not good enough, he thought it was an impossible for that dream to come true.
Barfield was recruited by a technical school in West Virginia in a move to help him excel academically. Now with the Wilsons’ help and his determination, Barfield is playing college football at Fairmont State University.
He’s not alone. His “brother,” Bryan, is on the FSU team, too. Barfield is the starting right guard for the offensive line.
“I really don’t know how to describe it,” Barfield said. “It’s a blessing really. In other words, I don’t know where I’d be if the Wilsons hadn’t taken me in.”
Barfield said he was in a tech-prep program in high school, not expecting to attend a four-year college.
“All kids start off on the four-year program, and, depending on the classes you’re taking in high school, depends on where you go,” he said. “And I had no idea. My counselors didn’t tell me anything.”
It has been a little more than two years since the Wilsons “adopted” Barfield. They did not formally adopt him because they took him in just before his 18th birthday.
Wilson said whenever anything goes on with her family, whether it’s a birthday, a holiday, vacations, anything, Barfield always is included.
“We love him, and he’s our son,” she said. “Lucky number seven. He called me on Mother’s Day and wished me a happy Mother’s Day. I got a call from all my sons —Luke, John, Andrew, David, Bryan, Chris and James.”
Wilson said she wants the best for Barfield, including graduating from college. His goal is to serve on a SWAT team somewhere and then join the FBI.
“I also know he wants to try and make it to the NFL as well,” she said.
“Possibly,” Barfield said with a laugh. “It’s extremely difficult to get in the NFL, as anyone knows.”
However, at 6 foot, 3 inches tall and 240 pounds, Barfield’s NFL dream could become reality.
Wilson said sports can make a positive difference in a person’s life. That’s why she supports the Let the Kids Play Free program.
Others wishing to support the initiative may make donations to the local program. Checks should be made payable to Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce. They should be mailed to Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Let the Kids Play Free Campaign, P.O. Box 665, Washington, NC 27889. Be sure to write “Let the Kids Play Free” on the memo line. For more information about Let the Kids Play Free and the June 4 cook-off, visit www.kidsplayfree.org.