It takes a lot of money to stage free football clinics for 200 or more Chattanooga youngsters. And to raise that kind of money it often takes some pretty big names.
So former Atlanta Falcons Buddy Curry and Gerald Riggs, as well as former Georgia Tech and Alabama football coach Bill Curry (who also starred as a NFL player at Green Bay and Baltimore) and former NFL punter Chuck Ramsey all made their way through the rain to Finley Stadium on Thursday evening for a fundraiser for Kids & Pros football camps.
"Our goal is to maintain a strong presence in this community," said Riggs, who has assisted Buddy Curry's nonprofit organization more than once in the past. "We want these kids to focus on God, family, school and sports, in that order. Being able to have our clinics for free this year will benefit a lot of kids at an impressionable age who really need it."
Buddy Curry, who was the 1980 defensive rookie of the year with the Falcons after graduating from North Carolina, said Kids & Pros will stage a one-day camp at McCallie School on June 7 at noon. A second camp will take place at Finley Stadium on July 14-16, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. each day.
"We've had more people come up to us and say, 'This is the best thing I've ever been to,'" Curry said. "This is the fourth year we've come to Chattanooga, and to be able to do this for free is really special to us."
Thursday's event featured a barbecue dinner and recollections of what really goes on in NFL locker rooms.
"The good ones," Buddy Curry said with a smile. "Not the Dolphins'."
Added Riggs, who was inducted into the Falcons' Ring of Honor this past season: "I have a few clean stories I can tell -- at least a few."
Ramsey, who graduated from West High in Knoxville before playing for Wake Forest and the New York Jets, remembered one inauspicious moment from his eight-year NFL career that involved Curry's Falcons.
"We were playing one Sunday night at Shea Stadium and it was foggy," he said. "Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson was returning punts for the Falcons. I thought I'd made two great punts -- really high, hanging kicks. He ran one of them back to our 5-yard line and scored on the other one. Not a good day at the office."
But the YMCA's Joe Smith expected the fundraiser to provide at least four good days for many of our community's young athletes.
"This is such a blessing," Smith said. "This fundraiser is going to allow us to educate even more kids, coaches and parents on how to play the wonderful sport of football the right way."
Anyone interested in finding out more about the camps should visit www.kidsandpros.com.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org