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Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 7:10 a.m.
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Return of a champ

Boys and Girls Club celebrates homecoming of pro footballer

By Angela Spencer

This article was published April 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

Travisha Garner is hoisted up by Jayla Taylor, left, and Brooke Compton in the gym at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club. Some of the proceeds from Homecoming of a Champion Week will go toward operations and maintenance of the club.

The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club will celebrate one of their own with a special event, Homecoming for a Champion Week.

Super Bowl Champion Clinton McDonald grew up in the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, club director Laura Walker said. He has since gone on to play football for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks, and is currently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

To celebrate McDonald’s success, and to support both the Boys and Girls Club and Jacksonville High School, several events will take place Monday through Saturday this week.

Walker said that when she heard McDonald would be coming home for a short time, she reached out to see if he would speak at a fundraising banquet for the Boys and Girls Club.

This will be the second year the Boys and Girls Club has held a benefit banquet, which serves as one of two main fundraisers for the club. The other fundraiser is the Dub Meyers Memorial Golf Tournament.

“Our fundraisers go toward everyday costs of keeping the building open,” Walker said.

The Boys and Girls Club sends vans to schools to pick up 64 children every afternoon for after-school activities. In total, 328 children are enrolled at the club, and in the coming months, 150 children will be accepted for summer care.

Children at the Boys and Girls Club arrive after school to play, do homework and blow off steam after a long day of classes. The Jacksonville club has a gymnasium, an outdoor play area, pool tables, foosball, a library and a new computer lab that Walker recently installed after receiving a grant for the machines.

This year, McDonald will be the keynote speaker at the benefit banquet, which will also feature a silent auction, a Volunteer of the Year award presentation, a scholarship presentation and the Dub Meyers Leadership Award presentation.

“We were just so excited to get someone like McDonald [for the banquet],” Walker said. “We’re really happy to have him come and speak to the community on our behalf, especially since he grew up here.”

The banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the community center. Tickets for the banquet are $50 and can be purchased by calling or visiting the Boys and Girls Club.

The banquet is not the only event going on during the week. On Tuesday, the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club will be the site of the Homecoming for a Champion Fashion Show, sponsored by McDonald and hosted by Whitney Dobbins. The show will start at 7 p.m. A donation of $10 for adults and $5 for kids is requested for admission. Children 3 and younger will be admitted free.

On Saturday, Jacksonville High School will be the location for the second Arkansas Clinton McDonald Iron Sharpen Iron football camp. Children and youth ages 6-18 will have the chance to participate in an all-day camp hosted by McDonald. Registration is $35, and lunch will be provided. More information on the camp can be found at www.arkansasironsharpenironyouthfc.com.

Walker said the proceeds from Homecoming for a Champion Week events will be split between the Boys and Girls Club and Jacksonville High School.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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