New Orleans Saints wide receiver Jarvis Landry, through his "Jarvis Landry Building Winners Foundation," hosted a football camp for nearly 100 children from his hometown of St. James Parish at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Friday.
In a surprise turn for the sixth annual Jarvis Landry GiveBack from the prior five which took place in Landry's native St. James Parish, the kids aged 11-17 were surprised with charter buses at Lutcher High School (Landry's alma mater), which took them to Metairie for a day full of football drills, a guided tour of the practice facility and a Q&A session with Landry, signed by the Black and Gold as a free agent in May.
All campers received a free Domino's Pizza lunch as well as a custom backpack with school supplies and goodies and camp T-shirt. Landry also awarded the annual Building Winners Foundation Scholarship to Keimonie Borne, a 2022 Lutcher High graduate. Borne received $5,000, a new TV, a laptop and other items essential to college life.
The Jarvis Landry Giveback was founded in 2015 to help the community Landry was raised in. The camp had previously been held in St. James Parish, but once Landry signed with the Saints and found out it was possible to host at the facility, he knew he had to figure out how to host it in New Orleans.
"The logistics of everything was a bit crazy, but we found a way to make it work," Landry said. "The Saints extended the practice facility, and I'm extremely grateful."
Landry didn't just host the camp, but he was also in the middle of the action. The actual football part of the day consisted of seven station drills: passing, tackling (complete with a Tom Brady jersey on tackling dummy), short route running, deep route running, agility and an Oklahoma drill where one station was defense while the other played offense.
The former LSU standout drifted from station to station, giving advice and encouragement. At the deep routes drill, he showed them how to properly run an out-and-up, while he acted as their receiver in the passing drill. Landry wanted to make it clear to the kids: He wasn't merely a presence at the camp, he wanted to be there as a mentor as well.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver
"(Being an example) means everything, it means everything," Landry said. "We got a lot of guys that's a part of the culture here that are doing the right things in the community. It goes a long way."
After the drills, the camp split into four groups to play seven-on-seven games. Landry played quarterback for one of the teams, staying as involved as possible.
After the campers ate lunch, they were given a tour of the facility, which finished in the team meeting room with the Q&A. Landry was asked a bit of everything from the campers, ranging from his high school days to his time in Cleveland and everything in between. He encouraged the campers with his story of hard work.
"Do the little things, and the big things will happen," Landry told the group. "Don't take the little things for granted. Do the little things, and it will pay off… When you want to be great, it's an unseen journey."
Landry said he wasn't able to experience anything like the camp when he was younger, so he wanted to give back to the community.
"Being able to experience these things without the guidance or without these types of camps, it helped me, and it also led me to be able to do this," Landry said. "I love doing this."
This was the sixth annual camp, and he said to do it back home meant a lot. He told the kids to have fun and be competitive, but he also wanted them to know he was here for them.
"I'm here," Landry said. "All the resources, all the people that volunteered, all the people that donated today to help out to be a part of this, just let (the campers) know that they have people that are here for them."
Landry has been heavily involved in every community he's worked in and was honored as the Browns' 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. He regularly hosted fund raisers for Cystic Fibrosis in Cleveland and Miami and has represented the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on his feet during the league's My Cause, My Cleats initiative. In fact, the night he was traded from Miami to Cleveland, he hosted an event at the Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium called Jarvis' Jams, where the proceeds went to the South Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The receiver has dealt with the disease on a personal level: A close high school friend Mya Marie Zimmer, died from Cystic Fibrosis in 2015 at the age of 24. While there is currently no cure, Landry and his foundation have raised thousands of dollars toward CF research over the years in Miami and Cleveland.
"If God continued to put me on the journey that I believed I was on, that if I had an opportunity with the platform, I would continue to go out there and talk about CF," Landry told NFL Films in 2018. "That's really been my promise to her."
Landry's foundation, the Jarvis Landry Building Winners Foundation, was founded in 2020 in order to empower, engage and excite communities like Cleveland, Miami and New Orleans, where Landry has played during his NFL career. The foundation works to impact the lives of children facing chronic health conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis and socioeconomic barriers.
Right before Friday's camp began, Landry stood in front of the campers inside the Saints practice facility to give words of encouragement. His message to them was simple: Have fun. However, he also made sure to state he was grateful for the opportunity to pass on the lessons he learned to the campers in attendance.
"When I was your age, I wished I had this opportunity… to be able to pay it forward, it means a lot to me, it really does."