More than 800 students from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) crowded into the Oracle Arena on Sunday at the Raiders last home game of the 2013 season.
Continuing their commitment to the community, the Raiders ‘First & Goal Kids’ campaign provided transportation, meals, and free tickets to local students and chaperones.
Cytosport, Bibby’s Chocolates, New Era and GLAD Products Company sponsor the program.
Former Raider tight end Tony Stewart and Pro Hall of Famer Willie Brown attended the event and spoke to the group about the importance of responsibility, commitment, and education.
“Forget about playing football,” said Brown. “[Education] is the first thing that should be on your mind.”
While he admitted he wasn’t the strongest student, he noted that if it wasn’t for education he would not have had a football career.
“I can really take what they’re telling me [and use] to focus on school,” said Arleny, an 11th grader at Ralph J. Bunch School.
Tony Stewart now runs a non-profit organization “Beyond the Locker”. The organization works to “help youth and athletes have better self-awareness, empower them with a strong sense of self-worth and teach life skills through sports.”
Stewart said he remembers the impact attending his first professional football game had on him and hoped the students left with a message that they too could reach their dreams if they worked hard.
“I wanted to share the message of what it takes to be a pro, understanding the preparation that it takes, the responsibility that it takes, and then the opportunities that need to be taken,” he added.
When asked, more than half of the students admitted they had never been to a live football game and were excited about the experience.
9-year-old Ronald said this wasn’t his first football game but now that he wants to play professional basketball, the chance to meet someone that had reached the pros was exciting.
He says the message of respect and hard work is what he is going to take away from the experience.
“This was fun and I’m going to enjoy the game,” said Ronald.