NEW PARIS — National Trail School District collaborated with the Driven Foundation to bring 10 Ohio State alumni football players to the school to host a day of community outreach.
The event was held on Friday, March 10, and offered elementary school reading visits, middle and high school assemblies, a charity basketball game, and a barbecue dinner.
The Buckeyes also visited the new sports complex and weight room to visit with students. There they spoke to the students about the importance of training and taking care of your body.
Tickets were sold for the family barbecue dinner, which featured dinner, guest speakers, a silent auction, a live auction, entertainment, and free Buckeye autographs. Proceeds from the day went to the Preble County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Big Brother Big Sisters, the National Trail Community Food Bank, and the Driven Foundation.
This is the second annual Buckeye Day at National Trail. The event originally stemmed from a desire to do do more for the community. Jeff Ginter, Pastor of St. Paul in New Paris, asked National Trail to partner on the Day of Caring, a pancake breakfast held in Dayton that is dedicated to empowering local communities. Together they held a brunch on the last Sunday in February. The event raised $1,500 which went to the National Trail Community Food Bank.
A few weeks following the event, Pastor Ginter approached National Trail again with a desire to do more for the community. The following year, instead of one brunch, there was an event at two different locations. Pastor Ginter still wanted a bigger impact.
It was Superintendent Jeff Parker who reached out to a friend of his, who recommended Roy Hall with the Driven Foundation. Parker said, “We got a hold of [Hall] and he was all-in from the beginning.”
The Driven Foundation is a non profit organization which was founded in 2008 by former NFL and Ohio State University Football teammates Roy Hall and Antonio Smith.
“Three words come to mind if I were to lay out what our mission is based on: Perseverance, so never give up; Resilience, get back up; Assistance, help others up,” Hall said.
They work to utilize their “Buckeye brand” to inspire others. “If you can get 108,000 people cheering for the Buckeyes, if you can get that same type of momentum on people helping and building the community one at a time, then we can solve all of the problems without waiting for the next bill or the next levy to pass,” he added.
Ginter spoke about why the collaboration between National Trail and the Driven Foundation is successful. “Our mission is not just to hand people food, it’s to inspire people to move forward,” he said. “That’s part of what the Driven Foundation is all about. The other piece of it that makes this such a good fit is that other word: impact. It not just about the dollars that come in — we want to impact people, we want to impact families. We want to impact children, so we have generations moving up living positive lives and being able to serve and assist.
“We couldn’t do the things that we do without National Trail. We are a small, elderly church. The things that we do, we have to rely on partnerships with Trail and with so many others. For what we are all about, for this area and this time, the Driven Foundation to me is just a perfect fit.”
The thing Parker likes most about this event is the impact it has on the students.
“The interaction that our kids get to have with these men that come from a different background than them, who they might just see as football players — they have the opportunity to understand that they’re men and that football is just something they did,” he said.
Pastor Ginter added, “They may come from different backgrounds, but people don’t understand that the kids who come here, there’s a different kind of diversity that they have to deal with and navigate. They help so much, giving them something to shoot for.”
Parker hopes the students walked away from the event knowing they can overcome their challenges.
“Some kids are battling and struggling with homelessness and having food, and then they have to come to school,” he said. “These teachers do a great job with understanding that kids do come to school with different challenges. Maybe [the students] can walk away today with something they hear from these guys that will keep them going. That’s the biggest goal and objective.”
This day of community outreach was made possible by generous donations from Henny Penny and New Paris Chamber of Commerce. Donations were also made by Edison State, the Fraternal Order of Police, Dr. Allen Ferguson, NT School Fundraiser, Pepsi, Catron’s Glass, Hewitt-Ross Dentistry, TimkenSteel, Rotary, and Cargill.
In the spirit of community outreach, Parker hopes to pack the gym for the Preble County Cougars’ annual fundraising game. The game will be held at National Trail on Saturday, March 18, at 11 a.m. They can only take donations at the door, but Parker hopes to make it a very successful fundraising event for the Cougars.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH