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Raw chatter

When anyone gives back to his or her community - never forgetting where they came from - it's an admirable thing.

Such was the case this past Saturday when Danny Verdun-Wheeler, a former star football player at Thomson High School and the University of Georgia, gave something back to youngsters and teenagers in the town where he grew up - Thomson.

Now with the Washington Redskins, Mr. Verdun-Wheeler helped to put on the Second Annual Danny Verdun-Wheeler Football Camp at Sweetwater Park near Thomson. Like was the case last year, this year's camp was a huge success.

Mr. Verdun-Wheeler forewent working out with the Redskins to return to Athens to complete the necessary assignments in the classroom in order to graduate from UGA in May.

It speaks volumes about his character - for education is one of his main topics of discussion when he returns home and serves as guest speaker at a local school. In speaking to local youngsters, he always stresses the importance of getting an education. He also tells youngsters how important it is to listen to their teachers, their parents and other grown ups.

Mr. Verdun-Wheeler is the perfect example of a great role model - not because of his celebrity status, but because he is a young man who has a good head on his shoulders. When he talks to local kids, they listen. They are attuned to him - seemingly grasping every word he utters from his mouth.

I'm so proud of the man that Mr. Verdun-Wheeler has become. I'm certain that others who know him feel the exact same way, as they should.

It was great to have his celebrity friends join him for the football camp, as well as for the celebrity basketball game that night in the gym of Thomson High School. I had looked forward to covering the event since first hearing about it more than two months ago. I'm glad that it was successful.

I sincerely hope that our local youngsters learned something from the football camp - not just that they can aspire to become star football players like many were at the camp - but that they become special in other ways, too. Most of all, I hope they work hard to aspire to be whatever they want to be.

As Mr. Verdun-Wheeler has always said, dreams can only come true with lots of hard work, determination and self-discipline. Those are the values that he learned from his parents and other family members, as well as from the teachers who taught him within the McDuffie County School System.

I'm proud to call him my friend and wish him only the best during his pro football career in the National Football League.

Web posted on Thursday, April 24, 2008

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