NFL Fun Day
By Angie Ledbetter
The first annual National Football League Fun Day was held in the Eureka community Saturday sponsored by Atlanta Falcon’s Peria Jerry, Minnesota Viking’s Jamarca Sanford and Baltimore Raven’s Michael Oher.
What began as an annual community BBQ ended up becoming an open invitation to everyone by the three NFL players.
“We wanted to do something to give back to our community that has supported us during our football years,” said Sanford. “We’ve been blessed to have family and friends that have been a big part of our football career and we wanted to show them how much we appreciated them. We wanted to give them a chance for us to autograph things for them. So we decided to do this for everyone.”
“It’s very important to give back to your community that has supported you and been there for you,” said Jerry. “You don’t forget about those people. They’ve might have helped you along the way when you needed some help so you don’t ever forget that. So if we can do something like this to show our appreciation to them, then we will. That’s what it’s all about is giving back.”
With cooler weather came the large crowds that enjoyed food, entertainment, games and music. You could pick from hamburgers, chicken, fish, sausage or hot dogs if you were hungry. The children enjoyed basketball, football and volleyball games, a dunking tank, a water slide and two bouncing castles.
The adults enjoyed some relaxing time in their lawn chairs under shade trees talking about how they watched two of these players grow up in the community. Dorothy Carr recalled being the bus driver for Peria and John Jerry.
It seemed as though everyone was one big family. It consisted of the Cars, Fords, Sanfords, Jerrys, Caruthers, Olivers, Taylors and Richards. As they talked, they would tell of how they were related to each other. It went back for generations and all were related somehow.
If you weren’t related by blood, you still could be part of their family as Michael Oher experienced first hand. One who came from a family that adopted him in Memphis, he quickly became part of this community family and often visited the community with Sanford and Jerry as they played football together at Ole Miss. He would spend weekends and holidays with everyone just like he was part of them.
The volleyball game between the adult men got very serious and heated. Even though it was fun and games, players took it seriously.What didn’t seem fair was Jerry, Oher and Sanford were all on the same side of the net. That didn’t matter because the game lasted a couple of hours with no one giving into the three players. They battled it out to the end. Cousins against cousins and who really knows what the result was. All that mattered on this day was everyone had fun.
On the entertainment side of the day came an eye opener for several hundred people around 6:30. As an eleven year old boy hit the stage looking like a young Michael Jackson. All eyes stopped and were on him as games came to a halt and music started.
Dressed in black dress pants, white sequin shirt, black sequin jacket, black shiny shoes and to top it off, a white sequin glove on his right hand, he began to dance to Jackson’s ‘Billy Jean.” He stole the show from any attraction at the time. He danced his heart out and as he moon walked across the stage, you could hear screams, clapping and even some tears as people thought of the late Michael Jackson. When finished, people already weren’t standing, stood for him and clapped.
This entertainer wasn’t done yet. He reentered the stage with three other dancers which formed a group name ‘Banks Four’ from Greenwood. It consisted of a girl, Pleasant Banks age 9, her twin Poki Banks, Eben Banks age 12 and Mitchell. Seemed the group was far from being shy of entertaining. They’ve entertained in Texas, California, Tennessee and several places in Mississippi. They recently entertained at Mississippi Valley State University. The group only dances to music from the Jackson Five and Michael Jackson. They were formed over a year ago by two men who are their fathers. The two fathers said they grew up listening to the Jackson Five and Michael and always loved the music so they came up with this idea. There is even another one in training to join the group. He is seven year old Steven Banks, a younger brother also.
So if you came to the event wanting to have a variety of things to do, you didn’t leave without having some fun. People of all ages took time to enjoy it.
Pittsburgh Steelers’s Deshea Townsend was in attendance with his children having fun also.
So Batesville is very proud to have these players in the NFL. The community has been well represented in football over the years and continues to grow in that area.