Deshea Camp

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 18, 2010

As camp participants entered the field, camp sponsor Deshea Townsend (right), formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, greeted each one with handshake. The football camp was held on the South Panola Football field. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Townsend oversees successful camp

By Myra Bean

Batesville native Deshea Townsend, former Pittsburgh Steeler cornerback, was in town this weekend and brought many teammates with him.

Townsend hosted his 11th annual Pay It Forward Football (PIFF) and Cheerleading Camp, commandeering the South Panola Schools for the various events. Along with the camp, was the PIFF healthfair which was also sponsored by the Heinz Foundation of Pittsburgh.

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Over 800 youths and adults participated in the day-long events which were accompanied by a hot, sunny day. The expected rains did not materialize and the camp went off without a hitch.

Joining Townsend to conduct the camp this year were Super Bowl 40 MVP, Hines Ward; Jacksonville Jaguar defensive back Anthony Smith; coach Kevin Jackson; former Steeler cornerback Fernando Bryant; Joe Burnett, Justin Vincent, Ramone Foster, Steeler quarterbacks Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon.

The two-time Super Bowl champ Townsend kicked off the event with the presentation of $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Local state representatives Warner McBride and Joe Gardner presented Townsend with a House/Senate Concurrent Resolution regarding the healthfair.

Jeffery Lewis of the Heinz Foundation was on hand to witness the events and received a certificate of appreciation from PIFF for its loyalty. On hand to receive the resolution was Aurelia Jones of Aaron E. Henry Healthcare, along with the local Aaron E. Henry office of Dr. Johnnie Cummings and staff.

There were many booths represented at the healthfair including Batesville Fire Department, Mississippi Children’s Health Network, Mississippi Blood Services, Teens Against Tobacco Abuse, Mississippi Tobacco Free, Delta Health Alliance, Phillips on sleep apnea, Paul Morgan Insurance, St. Francis Hospital, Sta-Home Health, Mississippi Health First, Ballard Family Dentistry, and just to feel good a face painting booth.

Before the children broke into age groups for their workouts, Bryant was drafted to be the spokesperson to tell how he got to be in the NFL.

“You have to truly want what you dream about,” Bryant said. “When you have responsibilities, you do what you are supposed to do.”

Townsend has already pressed other local NFL players into service for next year’s camp to be held the third Saturday in May. He said it will be named after himself, Jamarca Sanford, John and Peria Jerry. Michael Oher and Townsend will team up to put on a camp in Memphis.