Townsend Football Camp

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Townsend hosts his annual football camp

By Angie Ledbetter

The 13th Annual Deshea Townsend’s Pay It Forward football and cheerleading camp and health fair was held on Saturday despite many obstacles.

Over 240 youth football and cheerleaders participated in the camp. With the Panola County High Steppers and drum line,  several volunteers and some National football players a total of 350 people covered the South Panola football field.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Townsend, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 12 years and just finished his first year as an assistant defensive back coach for the Arizona Cardinals, had faith the kids would show up and was very pleased with the outcome.

“I’m always pleased,” said Townsend. “I’ve always had the motto that if you help one, then you help somebody. If one kid showed up, then we’d have a great time. Those many kids in this type of heat and the weather we had today, God showed up and the kids put out a great effort and that’s all you can ask for.”

Townsend said the adults handled the heat a little better because they were in the stands but the kids had a great time.

“We had a couple of guys that probably didn’t eat right and had to take a break but for the most part they pushed through it,” he said. “That’s one thing if you’re going to be successful in any walk of life in whatever you do you have to learn to work through adverse situations and learn how to push yourself to a limit where some people might quit. Those kids did that today.”

The camp was sponsored by the Deshea Townsend Pay it Forward Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of America, Tri-Lakes Medical Center and the Deshea Townsend Fitness Academy.

The health fair was sponsored by Tri-Lakes Medical Center free of charge at the Batesville Middle School where several campers and family members registered so they could get an update on their health status.

Vince Brummett got them started by weighing participants to see if their weight was within their body range. Next Ashley Johnson checked blood pressure, Madison Drake gave an eye exam and the toughest ones had their fingers stuck to check their blood sugar by Mary Ann Conner and Ann Overall.

Townsend said he feels the need to keep the camp going because it’s personal for him due to the fact that this is home for him and a lot of the kids are facing things that he didn’t face. He wants to show the kids they can be whatever they want to be but it’s a right way they have to do it.

Some NFL players who helped included Peria Jerry of the Atlanta Falcons, Yoshi Hardrick of Tampa Bay, Jamarca Sanford of the Minnesota Vikings, Cassius Vaughn of the Indianapolis Colts and former player Kory Chapman.

Hardrick said being at the camp meant a lot to him because he remembered when he was in the same shoes as a kid attending this camp the entire time he was a kid.

“It’s probably going to make these kid’s day,” Hardrick said. “I remember when I was here and saw an NFL player I remembered them for the rest of my life. It’s important to come back and let the community see you’re active in the community and let them know you want to give back. I want to show them it’s a right way to do it also.”

“I was in town and knew Deshea put on the camp and he asked me to help so I decided to come help the kids and Deshea. I had a good time even though it was pretty hot but it’s always good to see the kids working,” said Sanford.