FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2021
(Gary, IND) – The Gary Community School Corporation Athletics Department hosted a series of events over the weekend that will benefit student athletes enrolled in the Gary Schools. An impressive line-up of professional athletes returned home to support and promote a fundraiser and sports activities.
On Friday, the 1st Annual Celebrity Golf Outing was held at the Aberdeen Golf course in Valparaiso. Professional players, many of whom graduated from Gary West Side, turned out to support this initiative. Many community leaders and elected officials also joined in on the fun.
“To see so many people with a heart to support our young people is indeed humbling,” said Gary Schools Athletic Director Robert Lee. “We look forward to continuing this tradition with even greater participation by professional athletes who hail from the region.”
Lonnie Johnson’s – Protect the Youth Football Camp was held at West Side Leadership Academy’s football stadium on Saturday, June 12th., More than 300 Northwest Indiana students ranging from age 8-18 attended the inaugural camp.
Lonnie Johnson Jr., a graduate of West Side Leadership Academy, spearheaded the camp to give back to his hometown while also providing a positive example for campers by emphasizing sportsmanship and involvement in community-wide charitable projects.
The camp included one-on-one football instruction from Johnson as well as hands-on training from a cast of NFL players and local coaches. Some of the notable participants included:
JonVea Johnson, who also graduated from West Side Leadership Academy signed to the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and was claimed off of waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars in March.
Jason Johnson, father of JonVea Johnson and former wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, Steelers and Saints; Johnson is also a West Side graduate.
Brandon Moore, West Side Alum, dedicated a decade, from 2002-2012 to the New York Jets before retiring.
Ryan Neal, a Merrillville High graduate, played for the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
Antonio Pipkin, a Gary native, is the quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Kawaan Short is an East Chicago native who played 8 seasons for the Carolina Panthers and is now a free agent.
Lonnie Johnson has played professional football for the Houston Texans since he was drafted in 2019 and strives to give back to his community in many ways.
“I’m just trying to do my part, while not forgetting where I came from,” said Johnson. “I know how hard it can be to get out, so I just want to use my resources and my platform to protect the younger kids that are trying to accomplish the same goals and dreams that I have.”
Thanks to the support of local sponsors, the event was free to the youth and is expected to return next year.