$2 million gift to support N.O. after-school athletics
“All the coaches I had were part of the village that helped me grow up. I was lucky enough to have great parents, but I also had programs and coaches that made sure I was on the straight and narrow.” Marcus allen, NFL Hall of Fame running back
Young athletes in New Orleans may soon be able to run a little bit faster, or jump a little bit higher, thanks to a donation from Mercedes-Benz USA. They certainly will be getting some good training, both for sports and for life.
The car manufacturer has donated $2 million to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which will allow the nonprofit organization to expand its investment in the Crescent City.
It can now support training and placement of 30 coaches in 18 after-school programs potentially benefitting more than 4,000 youths.
The coaches will be from the Up2Us program Coaches Across America.
“When we came and put our name on the Superdome, one of the things we said we had to do was not just slap our logo all over the place, but to more intricately get involved in the community,” Mercedez-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon said Monday.
Cannon — along with two-time Olympic champion hurdler Edwin Moses and College and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen, who were representing Laureus — was at A.L. Davis Park in the Central City neighborhood to participate in a workout with children and adults from Youth Run NOLA, one of the organizations that will be supported by the donation.
“We’re making investments across the country, but our biggest investment is in the city of New Orleans,” Cannon said.
Moses said Laureus decided to get involved in New Orleans because of the plethora of problems the city has experienced.
“It is no accident that we’re here,” he said. “With the floods in New Orleans, everyone wanted to jump in down here.
“We took our time and focused on what we really wanted to do and how we wanted to approach it. We’re here for the long term; what we’re bringing to the table is going to be sustainable.”
Allen said he likes supporting after-school activities because they give children the possibility of having a role model like one who helped him at that age.
“All the coaches I had were part of the village that helped me grow up,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have great parents, but I also had programs and coaches that made sure I was on the straight and narrow.
“In a way, it provides an opportunity for kids to get off the streets and into programs that not only will help them grow, but get them healthier as well.”
Allen, Moses and other adult running partners for the children split into teams and, after listening to encouragement from several speakers, began the workout.
For Youth Run NOLA Executive Director Onika Jerbis, Monday’s event allowed stakeholders to see the effect of their programs.
“This is an opportunity to really have funders and stakeholders that invest in New Orleans actually see the impact that they’re having and to kind of see our kids and to talk with them,” she said.
Jerbis said Monday was a normally scheduled practice day.
“In terms of the kids that are here today, they are kids that practice every day,” she said. “They would have been at practice today or tomorrow, so this is just another day for them with some guests and some running buddies.”