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Cam and the King to Attend Proehl Event

What do NAS- CAR legend Richard Petty and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton have in common? The answer is the Ricky Proehl Celebrity Golf Classic, and a friendship with the man for who the event is named.

Proehl, a former NFL great and now wide receiver coach for the Panthers, is also founder of the P.O.W.E.R. of Play Foundation that serves at-risk youth through a highly structured, sports-based program at Proehlific Park in Greensboro.

“We’ve learned that by showing a child love, acceptance and respect, that we can, in turn, help change their lives,” said Proehl. “The Foundation teaches the children in our programs through our core values of Play, Opportunity, Work, Excellence, and Respect.

We tell them, ‘You can do whatever you want to do if you surround yourself with good people and make good choices.’ “ No doubt there’s a need for programs like those offered through P.O.W.E.R. of Play, especially for latchkey kids who need mentoring. According to the US Census Bureau, 77% of American youth are left at home every afternoon. And according to the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, most juvenile offenses occur around 3pm on weekdays. Proehl’s work with young people pays off. According to national statistics cited on his Foundation website, kids who are mentored are 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs and 52% less likely to skip school.

In order to sustain his Foundation, Proehl hosts the annual Celebrity Golf Classic which this year will be held on Friday, June 5 at Greensboro Country Club. Newton and Petty will attend the Pairings Party the night before at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, while Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and dozens of NFL stars, including Jerricho Cotchery, will also play in the Golf Classic. Hutchinson Family office, a full service wealth management firm, is this year’s presenting sponsor of the Classic.

“We’ve been so touched by the work Ricky has done with young people over the past few years, that we wanted to be involved in this special fund raising event,” said Steve Hutchinson, founder and CEO.

This is not the first time Richard Petty has teamed with Proehl. Last fall, NASCAR’s winningest driver and seven-time national champion, presented the P.O.W.E.R. of Play Foundation with a generous contribution, courtesy of the Petty Family Foundation, which supports a number of charities, chief among them, Victory Junction Camp. During the holidays, Petty, Proehl, and Hutchinson distributed food, clothing, and toys to families in need.

Meanwhile this will be Cam Newton’s first time teaming up with Petty to attend the Pairings Party, which also raises money for the P.O.W.E.R. of Play Foundation. The two-time Pro Bowler from Atlanta, joined the Panthers in 2011 after winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Auburn. He was named NFL rookie of the year, and passed for 400 yards in his very first game. Like Proehl, the Panthers quarterback is all too familiar with the needs of young people, who he works with in his Cam Newton Foundation.

“I enjoy working with Ricky as a coach, and I really admire what he’s doing to help kids,” said Newton. “Both of our Foundations focus on helping kids reach their full potential through special programs and mentoring.”

At last year’s holiday drive, I reminded Richard Petty that not everyone has fully recovered from the recession, and that money is still tight, even for those of us with a job. His response was inspirational and direct, “Most of us may not be as well off as we used to be, but we’re so much better off than the majority of people, so why not give back a little?” Tickets to next Thursday’s Pairings Party are still available at $100 per person. The cost to watch Friday’s golf classic is $50 per person. Children under 8 will be admitted free, but anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. To purchase tickets, register a foursome for the Celebrity Golf Classic, or learn how you can support the P.O.W.E.R. of Play Foundation, visit www.powerofplayfoundation.org. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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