The DeSean Jackson Foundation hosted a free football camp for kids ages five through 14 and it served as a reminder of the importance for successful people to give back. Almost 200 kids patiently waited outside of North Philadelphia’s Blackhawk Field at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning to see the three-time Pro Bowler and returning Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and kick returner.
Registered nurse Sean Jones was elated that his three sons would have an opportunity to learn from a successful NFL player like Jackson. “[The DeSean Jackson Foundation] reached out to different [junior football] clubs like the Blackhawks and said the camp would be for free. They said, we’re going to take 50 of your kids. So we brought them down here to make a fun day of it. It’s a blessing. He’s going to add a lot to the team in general, but just doing stuff like this is amazing.
“I didn’t even tell my kids until the last minute. They didn’t know and then [Saturday] morning, my wife brought them down here and they were really excited. She told them to just bring their football cleats and they were like, ‘For what?’ Their football season is over. Once they found out it was this and what was going on, they were excited. It’s a great opportunity for all of these kids out here.
For Jones and the other numerous parents in attendance, Jackson’s gesture of goodwill did not go unnoticed. “[Athletes] do a lot for the community and kids, but you don’t always get to see it. I’m sure [DeSean] was doing this when he played for his other teams. It’s not that they have to, but it shows that they want to. He decided to be out here with these kids and parents, and give back by showing a little love. It shows he appreciates what he’s got and where he’s gotten to.
As the DeSean Jackson Foundation’s president, Gayle Jackson emphasized the importance of the foundation’s mission and goals. “The foundation was established in honor of DeSean’s father, William ‘Bill’ Jackson Senior, who sacrificed his life to put his son in a position to do what he’s doing today,” Mrs. Jackson said. “His father passed away from pancreatic cancer in DeSean’s first year in the league. As a result of his death, we wanted to keep his memory alive.”
Each age group of kids had the opportunity to work out with insightful coaches that showed them tricks of the trade gained from years of experience. “[DeSean’s] dad, in his own infinite wisdom knew the right people,” Miss Jackson said. “Coaches, scouts for different teams and trainers were all his friends. These trainers you have out here, each one of these are athletes in their own right. Meaning, they’ve gone to the NFL. All of these guys out here trained DeSean.”
For Mrs. Jackson, the level of adulation DeSean has received since returning to Philly this past March only means that his foundation should give back that much more. “We’re back in Philly now and we’re getting all this love,” Gayle Jackson said. “If you’re getting all this love, you have to do something. So we give back because my son believes in his heart that the reason he’s blessed is because he’s a giver. He stayed out there the whole time [even though] this is the offseason.”
“That’s what the DeSean Jackson Foundation is about: Mentoring, empowering and building confidence in these young kids,” Gayle Jackson said. “To me, that can change a person’s life.”