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2009-2010 Bags of Hope

Swift Elementary School Bon Secour, Alabama

BON SECOUR — Former University of Alabama and National Football League star Jeremiah Castille presented 225 bags of school supplies to students at Swift School on Thursday. In addition to pens, pencils and paper, the ex-cornerback had two words for the elementary students, “dream big.”

“You talk to people that have accomplished anything worthwhile and they’re going to tell you that they had a dream,” Castille told the children gathered to hear him speak in the school’s gym. “When I was sitting where you’re sitting, I had a dream. If you want to accomplish something great with your life you have to have a dream of doing it.”

Castille also encouraged the youngsters to use ambition as fuel to overcome obstacles.

“Education is one of the keys to your success,” he said. “I loved football so much, that guess what? I did my schoolwork. … A dream will propel you. It will motivate you to do things that a lot of times you might not necessarily like. A dream will help you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.”

After his brief motivational speech, Castille and members of his foundation handed out book bags as nearly 220 students lined up for high fives and autographs.

Organizers said this was the second time the Jeremiah Castille Foundation has donated supplies, the first being at J.D. Davis Elementary in Castille’s hometown of Columbus, Ga.

Castille, who played for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII in 1988 and under the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama, said the Swift presentation was the first such giveaway his organization has sponsored in Alabama.

Barbara Blomeyer-Mikkelsen, the organization’s executive director, said some of the donation’s funding came from the SEC Celebrity Golf Classic held in Columbus and the AC Celebrity golf tournament in Orange Beach.

Foundation board member and Foley resident Drew Crouse said Swift School, also known as Swift Consolidated, the oldest school in Baldwin County, deserved special attention.

“I just know that they’re one of the poorest schools in this area,” Crouse said.

Swift serves pre-K through fifth-grade students and is a Title I school, which means it receives federal funding because a high percentage of its students are considered low-income. Principal Sandra Thorpe said she was “overwhelmed” by the generosity and that purchasing school supplies was difficult for some of her students.

By FRANKLIN HAYES Staff Reporter

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