Magazine article Parks & Recreation

NFL Superstar Emmitt Smith as Keynote: In Addition to His Many Football Feats, He Devotes Much of His Time to Youth Development

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

NFL Superstar Emmitt Smith as Keynote: In Addition to His Many Football Feats, He Devotes Much of His Time to Youth Development

Article excerpt

Superstar. Running back. Dallas Cowboys. Future Hall of Famer.

These are just a few of the words you could use to describe Emmitt Smith. However, you would only be telling half the story. You would also have to include these:

Humanitarian. Recreation degree. Youth development.

Smith is not only one of the best football players the National Football League (NFL) has ever seen, he's also a college graduate with a recreation degree who cares about this country's youth. He's dedicated to changing the lives of young America through initiatives that help children realize their potential.

One of those initiatives that he helped create is the not-for-profit organization, Open Doors Foundation. The group provides financial assistance and opportunities for youth to succeed. The organization stresses that with racial, geographical, economic or gender barriers in place, youth are sometimes left without hope--Open Doors works to restore that hope through different experiences.

The foundation supports youth through helping to fund other nonprofits that share the same mission, such as Academies of Excellence. Open Doors supports Academies, which provides assistance to students ages 11-15, to help them realize their full "star" potential. Through the use of mentoring, internships and interactive exchanges, the Academies of Excellence provides a real life experience and perpetuates self-expression, leadership and excellence. Program focus is in the areas of sports, entertainment and enterprise.

Other than his own organization, Smith works with Make-A-Wish Foundation, Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House. He also serves as a role model in recreation--he is a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, where he serves as inspiration for a more active lifestyle. He recently received the Children's Medical Center/Athlete Role Model Award; and in 2002, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation presented Smith with the prestigious Chairman's Award for his achievements on and off the field. …

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