Long before he was a star wide receiver in the NFL, Roddy White was a kid growing up on James Island with only his dreams.
Now, the 33-year-old player with the Atlanta Falcons is hoping to help young members of his community fulfill the same dreams.
White, along with several of his professional football partners, are hosting the 6th annual Keeping the Faith Foundation football camp at Fort Johnson Middle School. The camp began Wednesday and concludes Friday.
Former Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd and current NFL star Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals are two of the most noted celebrities that are assisting in White’s effort to bring football and life skills to kids in the Lowcountry.
“This camp does a lot,” said White, a four-time Pro Bowl selection. “All of the kids from different parts of the community get to come out and spend three days learning football and just have a great time. They get to talk to NFL guys, they get to touch them and run around with them. That’s a special part of what we do. We want them to learn the game of football but also we want them to understand that we are there for them. To see their smiles and how energetic they are out here is really fun for all of us.”
White said teaching kids to run and catch and be active is a small part of the total concept of the camp.
“Football is actually the last thing we talk about,” he said. “We talk about getting educated and working hard to physically get yourself to college. Everybody has dreams and aspirations of being a pro athlete but we tell these kids that getting to college and giving yourself a chance to be successful is what they should focus on.”
As he enters his 11th season in the NFL, White already is the Falcons’ career leader in receptions (765), receiving yards (10,362) and receiving touchdowns (62). White, who is signed through 2017, realizes his football playing days will eventually end. He says the only personal goal he has yet to achieve is the same goal every professional football player has — to win the big one.
“Super Bowl,” he said. “That’s been my dream since I was a kid. Growing up, Super Bowl Sunday was always a big deal around my house. I’ve been fortunate to be in the NFL but all of the records and such, they are not why we play. We play to be in the Super Bowl. That’s really the only goal I have yet to accomplish.”
Fitzgerald is happy to help White in his foundation efforts and says White’s love for the Lowcountry is genuine.
“Knowing Roddy and knowing how important this is to him, it’s great to be able to help out,” said the eight-time Pro Bowler. “He loves his community. He’s a true ambassador of his community and he wants to give back as much as he can so I’m all for it.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was in this same position as these kids. I was fortunate to attend camps when I was growing up and I heard a lot about the importance of education and the importance of being good citizens of the community, working hard and believing in yourself. It had an impact on me and I hope we can have an impact on these kids.”