On Armed Forces Day, more than 200 children of fallen service members had the time of their lives scrambling about the Astroturf at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park Redskin Park in Ashburn, Va., during the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation’s (RCF) inaugural United in Play event jointly supported by Yellow Ribbon United (YRU) May 19.
Washington Redskin Team president, Bruce Allen welcomed military families and their children during his opening remarks.
Former Washington alumni and current Redskin players donated their time to lead the children ages 5 – 11 to a fun afternoon of sports activities, picnic lunch and autographs. The children participated in obstacle courses, fitness routines, football pass and catch drills and playing flag football with the NFL greats.
Among the other NFL volunteers were former Washington tight ends, Chris Cooley and Richard “Doc” Walker, along with current Washington running backs, Samaje Perine and Kapri Bibbs.
“I feel great participating in this event today. But I feel sorry that the numbers are so large, because that means that they have lost a loved one in battle,” said Richard “Doc” Walker, a former Washington tight end and radio sports commentator.
“But it’s good that we can put a smile on their face and let them know they’re not alone. This is whats it’s all about because you’re not promised two parents. You’re not promised anything,” said Walker, son of a Marine veteran. “But if you have support volunteers like Yellow Ribbon United ran by the Dockery family and the Redskins Charitable Foundation everybody comes out to do a little something to brighten their day,” Walker explained. “I just understand the community and all of us have to replenish what’s been lost.”
“It feels great to be here, realizing how much their parents sacrifice for us. Just for us to sacrifice a little bit of time and see their kids have a great time there are just no words for it,” said Samaje Perine, a Washington running back enjoying his second year.
Derrick Dockery, YRU co-founder, was happy about sharing the inaugural event with the RCF on Armed Forces Day weekend. “This is our first United in Play event and we’re very fortunate to partner with the Redskins,” said Dockery a former Redskin guard.
“We just wanted an opportunity to come out and support military kids and their families to show them how much we appreciate their service for our country,” said Dockery, who asked former teammates to support the two-hour sports game event. “I think more than anything, it’s about putting a smile on a kids’ face. So many of them love the game of football and we wanted to expose them to the activities as a way to bridge the civilian and military divide and giving corporations the opportunity to serve as well.”
Dockery explained that YRU is an initiative that tries to bring together sports, corporate America and civilians to really be active in appreciation to men and women who serve, their families and veterans, because “we know that freedom is not free. And we really understand the importance of giving back and really showing our appreciation to those who allow us to enjoy the freedoms we have here in America.”