Saints tight end Ronnie Ghent wanted to give something back to his hometown of Lakeland, Florida, and invited eight of his NFL friends to help him with a weekend-long event. Ghent organized the Ronnie Ghent Youth Achievement Camp, a three-day event that was held at Lake Bonny Park.
The weekend featured two youth camps, a scholarship fundraising dinner and a celebrity softball game. All proceeds went to the Ronnie Ghent Youth Achievement Foundation. On Friday, Ronnie and the guys held an Academic and Skills Development Camp, for middle- to high-school age football players at Lake Bonny Park in Lakeland.
Saturday saw Ghent hold a Free Youth Achievement Camp for kids 7 and older at Lake Bonny Park. The camp also included free hearing, vision and dental screenings and academic information. The overwhelming success of the community event made Ronnie realize how important it is to give back to your community.
"It's something I was interested in doing for a long time," said Ghent. "It's about giving back, but it's bigger than football really," Ghent said. "It's about education and being a leader, explaining to kids that they don't have to just go along with the crowd.
"A lot of things kids might not understand, helping them prepare for the future with what they do today. If you reach them early and you instill that early, it'll help them."
Ghent hosted a scholarship fund raiser Saturday, featuring a silent auction, live entertainment and a chance for attendees to meet and mingle with NFL players, including Ghent, his teammates Marvin Mitchell and Pierre Thomas, Antonio Chatman and Quincy Wilson from the Cincinnati Bengals, Keiwan Ratliff of the Indianapolis Colts, Glenn Martinez of the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bear Desmond Clark and Chauncey Davis of the Atlanta Falcons.
Closing out the weekend, the guys held a Celebrity softball game at Lake Bonny Park, with the pros taking on event sponsors. Although the game was close, the players squeaked out a close one with a win.
Meanwhile, Ghent established the Ronnie Ghent Youth Achievement Foundation to help kids with testing and eventually establish a scholarship. All the proceeds from the weekend went to the foundation.
"We hope the kids had fun. That's basically what this weekend is about," he said. "I'm basically telling kids the same things their parents tell them, but it's coming from an NFL player. It might help them to hear it from somebody else."