By Rob Moseley
Several alumni of the Oregon football program will be back in the Willamette Valley this month to participate in community outreach.
Former UO quarterback Dennis Dixon and tight end Ed Dickson are among the biggest names scheduled to appear this Saturday at a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley, and at a youth camp next weekend in Clackamas organized by a UO football alumni organization.
The Regional Sports Center at 200 S. 32nd St. in Springfield will host an event this Saturday called “Dixon 2 Dickson Quacks Give Back.” The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., is being billed as a “cocktail carnival,” with former UO football players manning carnival game booths along a midway, followed by dinner and an auction of items including artwork and memorabilia featuring Oregon football.
This is the second year in which Dixon and Dickson have partnered with the local Boys & Girls Club for a fundraiser. The club serves more than 900 local kids, around 80 percent of which live at or below the poverty line.
“People love their Ducks,” said Kassey Mosher, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley. “It’s been great exposure for us, and it’s helped our kids to have so much more.”
Running back Kenjon Barner and defensive end Kenny Rowe also have been tentatively confirmed to appear Saturday. Current players will also participate through the O Heroes program, with recently graduated kicker Alejandro Maldonado addressing the attendees in person about his experiences with the Boys & Girls Club, and Marcus Mariota appearing in a video presentation.
Folks interested in attending can contact the club at 541-345-9939.
A week later, Dixon, Dickson and other alumni tentatively scheduled to include Jonathan Stewart, Walter Thurmond III and Jeff Maehl will participant in three days of events through the Oregon Football Association. The OFA is an alumni group “dedicated to reconnecting former Oregon football players and giving back to local communities by enhancing the lives of youth through sports training, mentoring and life skills development.”
The OFA, whose president and executive director is former UO safety Ryan DePalo, will host a kickoff party in Portland next Thursday, June 26; a golf tournament the following day at Heron Lakes for which limited space remained available as of this week; and then the youth camp on Saturday, June 28, at Clackamas High School.
The camp, for boys and girls in third grade through high school, costs $75 and is open to all experience levels. Alumni such as DePalo, Brent Haberly, Garren Strong and Riley Showalter will run various drills, with the NFL alumni rotating through to connect with the campers.
“The one thing we really teach is the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows,’” DePalo said. “Why you do certain things, and how you do it properly.
“We look at football, and sports in general, as our vehicle to mentor kids and teach life lessons. So a lot of guys will talk about their experiences, what they’ve gone through, what adversity they’ve faced to get where they’re at now. We want (campers) to walk away with knowledge, and maybe a key little thing that will stick with them and change how they look at football, or life in general. All of us had that mentor in life who said something that kind of clicked, and made us go one way or another.”
The OFA, a non-profit whose board includes former UO head coach Mike Bellotti, Dixon, Stewart and Thurmond, has a website with more information at www.ofamovement.org.