United Way and NFL pro share goals on Day of Action

6/25/2014, 9:23 a.m.
Morgan is no ordinary young man. In the 2014 off-season, he signed with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to joining ...
Davon Morgan cleaning donated sports equipment

RICHMOND - “I’m here to work,” said Davon Morgan. These sincere words were expressed by a very compassionate young man at the recent United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg’s Day of Action.

Morgan is no ordinary young man. In the 2014 off-season, he signed with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to joining the Eagles, he played for the Professional Indoor Football League’s Richmond Raiders, finishing third in the league in pass breakups and fourth in tackles. He earned second-team ACC honors as a senior at Virginia Tech and was an outstanding player for Varina High School.

“The first thing Davon said to me was ‘where do you want me to start?’” said Heather Turbyne Pollard, VP of Strategic Engagement at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Across the country, hundreds of United Way affiliates celebrated the longest day of the year (June 21) with a national “Day of Action” to engage volunteers, inspire action, and make an impact in local communities.

United Way partnered with Advanced Orthopedics and Ortho On-Call's AdvanceItUp! sports equipment drive to host its Day of Action at the RVA Streets Alive event. More than 440 youth sports equipment items were donated and will be given to targeted schools and programs throughout the region through Fit4Kids. Many donations were made from individuals and companies such as Brinks, Cargill, Target, and Thompson, Siegel & Walmsley LLC.

Morgan joined volunteers to clean and sort the gently-used sports equipment.

“When I was young, I played on teams that didn’t have enough equipment to go around. We’d share during the game and give our equipment to the next team when we finished. I can relate to what we’re doing here,” he said. “I’m here to do what’s needed, not get my picture taken.”

Studies show that youth who are more active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed, and perform better on standardized tests than children who are less active. By collecting needed youth sports equipment, schools and programs across the Richmond region can help children and teens lead an active and healthy life. One out of six children in this region lives in poverty. Low-income children are less likely to participate in organized sports and report that key barriers are expense and transportation.

Morgan was accompanied by his former little league coach, Floyd Brown, who coached him for the Mosby Spartans. He commiserated with Morgan about the ongoing need for help with sports equipment.

“Davon was always focused as a kid,” Brown said. “I tell people all the time that it took Davon 981 days to get back to the NFL after being released. He could have given up, but didn’t.

"I always told Davon and others to not ever let someone tell you to give up."

Morgan took a break from cleaning equipment to speak to neighborhood kids passing by the United Way tent. His message was sincere. He told kids, “go to college and get a degree…don’t just go, finish. Don’t give up.”

Pollard of United Way, said the organization's goal is for children and youth to succeed in school, work, and life. “We’ve set a bold target to increase our region’s on-time high school graduation rate to 92.5 percent by 2020. We couldn’t ask for a more compassionate champion for this goal than Davon Morgan.”