Do it all for the children

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Walking along the Washington waterfront on Friday evening, one might have been surprised by the mass of people — adults, children, but mostly children — crowded on the edge of Festival Park. A line, hundreds of people long, weaved through the grass and impromptu games of catch cropped up in open spaces.

Walking into the gym at Washington High School on Friday night, one might have heard the crowds roar as Washington police and fire-rescue-ems personnel took on some professional athletes in a cutthroat exhibition basketball game.

Both the NFL meet-and-greet and the game were fun, successful and well-attended. But walking onto the field at Washington High School the next day, Saturday, was a life-changing event for so many of the children attending a free football camp, where coaches were NFL players and the players were white, black, Latino, seasoned youth league-football players and little children wearing their first football jerseys. Whatever race or age, the common denominator was the enormous grins when those children got one-on-one attention from their coaches: high fives and encouraging words from a group of men who may have cornered the market on athletic success but still remember their roots.

Signing autographs is one thing. Providing entertainment is another. But volunteering the time and energy, just for a few hours, to make a difference in those children’s lives is beyond admirable.

All those who participated — the Washington Police Department and Fire-Rescue-EMS, Beaufort County Pirate Club, the Police Activities League, Boys & Girls Clubs of Beaufort County, Washington High School, Coast Guard Auxiliary and, of course, Washington native and Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver Terrance Copper and a slew of players who came along for the fun — deserve recognition for working together and creating a really special event for the children of this community.