WALLACE, N.C.—June 17, 2017: Nearly 600 youth athletes gathered in eastern North Carolina this weekend to participate in North Carolina’s second-annual Jeremiah Castille Character Football Camp. House of Raeford Farms, through the company’s FLOCK Foundation, sponsored the two-day camp during which student athletes from six counties trained with current and former college players from the University of Alabama and Clemson University, under the leadership of former professional champions.
“We’re teaching these young athletes that they can be champions if they work hard both on and off the field. We want them to understand that it takes more than exceptional football skills to become a champion. It takes character,” said Castille, the retired NFL great and former Alabama all-star, who now serves his alma mater as football team chaplain.
Castille’s camp focuses on strength, agility and character-building skills. As an added bonus, student athletes learned a valuable lesson in sportsmanship through a surprise reunion of Castille and former on-field rival, Earnest Byner—an East Carolina University alumnus and former running back for the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.
Castille and Byner faced off in the 1987 AFC Championship Game during a play that has come to be known as “The Fumble.” With 1:05 left on the clock, the Broncos’ Castille stripped Byner of the ball at the Broncos 2-yard line, destroying the Browns’ chances of making it to the Super Bowl that year. The two former NFL legends had not seen each other in 30 years and came together in a heartfelt reunion at this weekend’s camp.
“It’s important for us, as role models, to show these kids what sportsmanship looks like, and to show them that they can move on from even the toughest times,” said Byner. “I am thankful for the opportunity to reunite with Jeremiah, and to train with these outstanding student athletes—all of whom have bright futures ahead.”
House of Raeford has been sponsoring the character camp since 2016. The character camp aligns with one of the core pillars of the company’s nonprofit FLOCK program—youth development.
“Jeremiah and his staff focus on valuable life skills, including teamwork, self-discipline and consideration of others. House of Raeford shares those values and we want these young athletes to be successful both on and off the playing field,” said Tom Teachey, director of community outreach for House of Raeford in Duplin County. “Jeremiah and Earnest led by example, and showed that true sportsmanship is a character skill for life both on and off the field. That’s a powerful message for all young student athletes.”
Visit www.HouseOfRaeford.com and www.castillefoundation.org to learn more about House of Raeford and the Castille Foundation. To learn about Earnest Byner’s foundation, Healing Dawgs, visit www.healingdawgs.org.