San Diego Chargers: One Love
This year, the San Diego Chargers closed training camp to the public due to a broken water pipe under the bleachers…needless to say, fans aren’t too happy, but if they pay attention they’ll find they have something else to cheer about.
As part of the Chargers Community outreach, the organization is routinely frolicking around San Diego passing out food to the homeless or visiting the elderly in convalescent homes. Who knew? It’s this kind of ‘under the radar’ activity that makes my heart go pitter-patter. No arms need twisting when the Chargers and support staff head out to spread love…and those I spoke to sincerely look forward to giving back and spending quality time with those who are often otherwise ignored.
This is the first in a series of articles I plan on writing about the Chargers organization, support staff and of course, the hotties, as I join them around town getting a first hand look at their good deeds. First of all, Dick Lewis is the Man. Lewis is the Director of Player Outreach and also fronts the Chargers band known as ‘Time Out.’ They’ve been playing around town-in convalescent homes-for over ten-years. He explained to me how the Chargers Band came to fruition. “Ten years ago, actually, the idea came from Dean Spanos, President of the Chargers organization, we talked about a variety of needs in the community that they should be addressing,” said Lewis, “While we were talking about it, Spanos said why don’t you feed the homeless and do something with convalescent homes. So we were there. We started feeding homeless and coming here. First we developed a band with players and us, and went from convalescent home to convalescent home-we’ve been doing this for ten years now. And we’ve been feeding the homeless for ten years as well.”
Our conversation took place at the Golden Paradise convalescent home where the band was performing. And as I watched them perform my eyes scanned the crowd…it was amazing. Lewis has a soft, soulful voice that easily rivals those of the greats he was singing – Smokey Robinson, Al Greene- eat your hearts out.
The power of music was evident on the elderly faces around the room. For a few short hours, these folks experienced something wonderful. I couldn’t help but wonder who they were, where their families were and what memory flashed through their mind as Lewis sang an oldie but goodie.
But Lewis was quick to point out –selflessly-that its about the bigger picture. “I want to tell you, it’s such a gratifying feeling. It’s not just the band, basically it’s the organization. They gather stuff up- toys, clothing, sandwiches, soup, water, medicine – everything- they bring it to my office and we take it out every week,” said Lewis, “And we don’t realize how difficult it is in life for folks who have nothing. There are folks that have no money so they wander the streets and look for somebody to care for them because unfortunately they fell and they can’t get up. So we are providing an avenue for them to get up, and when I say ‘we’ I’m talking about the organization, the personnel of the organization, they care about peoples plight.“
One such plight is the need for food-it seems criminal to me that we have people walking the streets hungry in a nation that leads the world in obesity rates. “The need for help is growing,“ said Lewis, “Last week, we were feeding the homeless, and there was this three year old little girl with her mother, homeless out there, she was just playing and carrying on,” Lewis pauses, “After we finished the little girl’s mother approached us and said ‘my daughter wants to say something to you.’ So she came up to us, each of us, and said ‘thank you for feeding us.’ That’s the real world out there and this is just a small part of what we do’”
Of course I had to ask Lewis about the players, specifically, who would be the first to step up and take action? “This one over here,” he motions to Chargers Wide Receiver Gary Banks who was busy talking to an elderly gentleman, “He never says no, at a moments notice he is always here. You know, it all depends on how you were raised, and he cares.”
I would have to ditto Lewis’ sentiments about Gary Banks. The second year receiver has a smile to die for, but its what he does with it that makes him special. He must have spoken to every resident in that home…he shook hands, signed autographs and posed for photos…and he never stopped smiling. He is sincere…trust me kids, after attending many, many events, you can tell the difference between those guys who feel obligated and those who want to be there. He wanted to be there. “I’ve been to a number of events, Dick always has something going on and he’ll let me know about it,” Banks told me, “Its always fun coming and seeing the smiles Dick and the rest of the guys put on everyone’s faces.”
A smile was on everyone’s face indeed…from the 90 year-old school teacher to the care-givers to the crazy redheaded blogger…and this is just the tip of the Chargers ice-berg of community love that I intend on sharing with you as time goes by.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com