Leon Washington, Giving back is All About Location
The first thing we have in common was our high school. We both attended Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida. No, we didn’t go at the same time. Leon was not quite a year old and I was 17 when I graduated in 1983. He played football for the AJ Tigers, and I cheered for the football team in my day. He made it to the pros, and well, I always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
The other thing we have in common is the reason for his foundation. The Leon Washington Foundation is a new foundation that aims at helping kids and families in the low-income areas in Jacksonville, not fall through the cracks. Really, it’s about not letting any kids fall through the cracks regardless of their families’ income. I could relate to this. Though I am not sure my dad’s income was considered “low-income” back in those days, but he was a single parent through my high school years. I was one of those “smart’ kids that really didn’t have to study to do well. But when it came to knowing what I needed to do to go to college (I was college material, loved school and learning), I fell through the cracks. One of the programs that Leon has through his foundation is ACT/SAT Prep classes. I really didn’t know anything about these test, or applying to college while at Andrew Jackson High.
It makes you wonder how many other kids have fallen through the cracks and failed to reach their full potential. I turned out ok. I finally make it to college as a single mom when my baby was 16 a few years back, and in May 2012, I graduated with an Associate’s degree, Magna cum Laude. I still hope to get back into the classroom one day to obtain my Bachelors degree. I still wonder how life might have been if I had a college education much earlier. How much easier would my children’s life have been having a single mother who could have supported them better financially? Sometimes falling through the cracks can have life-long ramifications.
The foundation also helps through several programs such as Football clinics, Anti Bully Seminars, and Youth Rallies. As a kid, Leon had the odds stacked against him. He has used his God-given abilities to become who he is today. He’s proof that it really doesn’t matter where you come from, with the right guidance and support, the possibilities are endless.
As for Twitter, I know you’re all wondering…….. He is great if you’re a Florida State Seminole! Yes, he played for them, and is one of their biggest cheerleaders. As a Florida Gator, since the moment I was born, I have looked past this one area that we are not alike. Writing this article one day after the ‘Noles killed my Gators is further proof that if he wasn’t the real deal, I wouldn’t have put my feelings aside to write about him. You can follow him at @Leon_Washington on twitter.
So let me say thank you, Leon Washington, for being an outstanding role model on and off the field of football. I personally think the NY Jets should have never let you go (Yes, something else we have in common). Once I am the coach, I will bring you back. Just know that I will Gator Chomp you when it happens…in love of course.
If you want more information, or to be a sponsor (Like the Tim Tebow Foundation), please go to his foundation website http://leonwashington33.org/