Super Bowl Champion Wendell Smallwood never forgets where he came from — Wilmington’s Riverside community, where you’ll find pockets of urban blight but also hope. It’s a neighborhood where a visit from a Super Bowl champion would be a very big deal, as it was on Saturday when Smallwood and other NFL football players made a special appearance at Kingwood Community Center.
Kingswood is the neighborhood’s anchor, offering healthy outlets for kids, meaningful after-school programs and supervised sports activities.
Partnering with Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and the City of Wilmington, Kingwood hosted a Super Bowl Victory Party with Wendell Smallwood & Friends, which included 10 other past and present NFL players who talked to kids, signed autographs and posed for pictures. Some of the other players included three from Wilmington: Jhurell Pressley (formerly of the Falcons), Rich Parson (formerly of Raiders/Redskins), and Justin Brown (formerly of Steelers/Bills), and Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement.
Cheering adults were clearly just as excited as the kids to meet all of the players and congratulate Smallwood and his team’s amazing victory over the Patriots.
“Being able to touch, hug, and take a photo with NFL players from our very own city and state is so motivating for the children because they know it is truly possible for them to do the same,” said Logan Herring, executive director of Kingswood Community Center. The event also included free food, music, giveaways and other activities.
Planners learned shortly before the event that Smallwood would be bringing nearly a dozen players with him on his visit to Wilmington. “We are fortunate enough to have so many players that know how much their success means to the community as they inspire all of us to pursue our dreams,” said Herring.
For Herring, the Mayor, Governor John Carney, and all of the kids and parents who attended the party, it was incredibly sobering to consider that a Wilmington native was a member of the first-ever Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles team. “As cliché as it may sound, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we can say we were a part of it,” remarked Herring.
Photography credit: Allen House Studios