LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 10, 2011) — Raised in a small, rural town in Florida’s panhandle, Anthony "Champ" Kelly, Denver Broncos Assistant Director of Player Personnel and former University of Kentucky student athlete, says his childhood and home life were sometimes difficult. However, he gives credit to his community for embracing and nurturing him throughout hard times.
The love and support Kelly garnered from his community afforded him confidence and resiliency. Ultimately, the experience made him who he is today, and impelled him to volunteer throughout his time at UK and beyond.
Because of this, Kelly and his wife Stephanie, founded Heart Power, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting youth and their families who are in search of positive, encouraging influences in their lives.
“The most memorable community event of my life was volunteering at Kentucky Children’s Hospital during ‘Breakfast with Santa,’” said Kelly. “I was privileged to witness the amazing spirits of kids and babies who were very sick. These kids had smiles and ambitions that proved to me that it is possible to be victorious over adversity.”
Now, more than 10 years since his experience at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Kelly’s Heart Power wants to again contribute to the hospital through proceeds from the C.H.A.M.P. Camp, specifically to the Kentucky Children's Hospital's Heart Center. The camp, Heart Power’s most important event, is a two-day, non-contact football camp for children ages 10-17.
The inaugural camp was held at Kelly’s high school in Graceville, Fla., in the summer of 2010. The staff and coaches worked with more than 120 campers to instill the core values of Character, Heart, Attitude, Motivation, and Pride through instruction of football fundamentals and speakers delivering messages on life skills and the importance of making good decisions. Speakers and coaches consisted of a variety of local business leaders, former collegiate and NFL athletes, and other positive role models.
“For many campers, the CHAMP Camp will be their first opportunity to receive mentoring from positive role models outside of a classroom setting,” Kelly said. “If something one of our speakers or coaches says impacts or diverts one child from heading down the wrong path, we will have accomplished our goal.”
Dougie Allen, a teammate of Kelly and former UK student athlete, assisted with coaching the inaugural camp. "For the campers it's all about opportunity. To expose the campers to volunteer coaches that have been where they are and can help them see what talent, hard work, and focus can do to help them achieve their dreams is amazing. As a coach, and a man, we have to give back and help young men in our area grow up to be responsible and productive adults. They have to be encouraged physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually to navigate through this challenging world we live in."
Heart Power hopes to raise funds to funnel back into the communities that impacted the lives of Kelly and his wife. Proceeds from Graceville’s camp went toward the Special Olympics of Jackson County. Net proceeds from the camp in Kentucky will go toward The Salvation Army’s emergency homeless shelter where Stephanie volunteered during the completion of PT school. As mentioned earlier, Heart Power will also donate to The Heart Center of Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
When asked what it means to be able to give back to his alma mater, Kelly says it means everything. “I am totally thankful to reunite with some of my teammates and best friends who are more than eager to support this cause. The support and encouragement that we have received from family, friends, and sponsors is truly heart power. It is way bigger than Stephanie and I, and that is exactly how we want it."
Lexington’s first CHAMP Camp will be held June 23-24, 2011 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Lafayette High School. Local high school coaches will join NFL players, and former UK football players to assist with the camp, including: Dougie Allen, Leonard Burress, Derek Homer, Derek Abney, Shane Boyd, Lester Boyd, Bill Ransdell, Mike Scippion, Eric Kelly, Donte Key, Johnny Williams, Keith Comeforo, Ray Khatir, Ellery Moore, DeMario Ford, and Dickie Lyons.
"I'm excited CHAMP Camp is coming to Lexington," said Allen. "Giving back to Lexington has always been a part of what keeps me going. There are people in this city that helped me achieve all that I ever have, and it's always been important for me to help other youth have the same experiences I did."
Register for the camp here.
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Meador, (859) 247-1754 ext. 256 or Julie.Meador@uky.edu