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View Full Version : Chiefs Giving Back: Chiefs lend hand at Lunar Bowl to help inner city children


|Zach|
06-08-2006, 07:23 PM
By Bill Althaus
The Examiner

Malik Jackson sported the wide-eyed look of a youngster who was living a dream.

He was shaking hands with Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson one minute, then stepping to the line and bowling a near strike the next.

He was with his two "best friends in the world," Ronnie Sailer and Cardell Miller, and there was enough pizza and soda to fill the Grand Canyon.

The youngsters were having the time of their lives Wednesday night at Lunar Bowl in Blue Springs, as Operation Breakthrough thanked its many sponsors by throwing a bowling bash.

Operation Breakthrough provides service for the children and families of the inner city, including day care, meals, Children's Mercy Clinic, dental clinic, speech therapy, play therapy, housing assistance, food and clothing and social services.

After the event ended, most of those attending went home with their families.

But not Malik. The 10-year-old headed back to his homeless shelter.

Ronnie is the adopted son of Sister Berta, the Knute Rockne of Operation Breakthrough.

"Ronnie was adopted when he was an infant," said Sister Berta, who founded Operation Breakthrough 35 years ago. "He was four months old and had already been placed eight times.

"Eight times. Can you imagine? No child should go through something like that."

She paused, amid the merriment and clanking sound of bowling balls striking pins, "But no child should have to leave an event like this and go to a shelter, either."

No child at the event sported bigger smiles than the three longtime friends who were inseparable throughout the evening.

"I've been with Operation Breakthrough since I was zero," Malik announced, with a touch of pride in his voice.

The comment made Cardell do a double take.

"What I mean, is that Cardell has been here since he was one," Malik said. "I was here before I was one, so I say I was here when I was zero."

The youngsters laughed.

"It's a special privilege for me to be with my friends in Operation Breakthrough," Malik said. "I'm never scared when I'm there. Sister Berta makes us all feel special and we get to go to school and learn all kinds of things."

The three youngsters are part of a drum corps that will leave Friday for Anaheim, Calif., where they will represent Kansas City in its quest to gain All-American City status.

"I didn't even know such a thing existed," Berta said. "We're taking 30 children and we have six chaperones."

A twinkle soon appears in her eyes and she says, "How can you take 30 children to Anaheim and not take them to Disneyland? I made a few phone calls and raised enough money for them to go to Disneyland and have a meal there.

"And we want each of them to be able to go to the beach and step in the ocean. We want their experience to be special."

Wednesday night's experience was special for everyone, especially Johnson and first-year Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards.

When it was announced that Johnson had arrived, Edwards ran up and pleaded, "Mr. Johnson, will you sign my shirt?"

The two men laughed and embraced.

Johnson didn't sign that shirt, but he signed everything that was placed in front of him for more than an hour.

"I attended this event last year and I enjoyed it," the soft-spoken Johnson said. "If Coach Edwards is involved in something, I want to be there."

Like Johnson, Edwards posed for several photos and also signed a variety of items. All the while, his wife Lia and 10-month-old daughter Gabrielle mingled with the kids in attendance.

"You know, the young people who attend this event can't afford to see a Chiefs game in person," Edwards said. "But here, the can meet the players, touch them, get to know them.

"I talk to our players about making a difference in someone's life. And I think they have done that at events like this, and through visiting the kids at Operation Breakthrough."

Moments after bowling a strike, Pro Bowl offensive lineman Brian Waters talked about Operation Breakthrough, which was one of the favorite charities of former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil and his wife, Carol.

"Something like this gives these kids hope," Waters said as he posed for photos and chatted with sponsors who were bowling on his lane. "There are guys on this team who can't imagine going through what these kids go through every day of their lives. I think we can learn a lot about life through these kids.

"And if we can spend a few hours with them, and give them some hope and help them have a good time than we will all benefit from it."

David Andre, a board member and committee chairman of the bowling event, said Sister Berta is the backbone of Operation Breakthrough.

"She is an amazing woman," he said. "This began 35 years ago with seven children who needed daycare. Today, we have 550 kids between the ages of six weeks and 18 and we have a waiting list of more than 800."

Those numbers are overwhelming, but they were of little concern to Malik and Cardell.

"Larry," Cardell asked Larry Johnson, "what car did you drive here tonight?"

Johnson grinned and replied, "The blue one."

The two boys giggled with delight.

As Johnson went back to signing autographs, someone posed a question to Cardell.

Was Larry Johnson his favorite Chiefs player?

"No, Benny Sapp is my favorite," Cardell said. "Larry is just a tad bit behind."

Reach Bill Althaus at bill.althaus@examiner.net or 350-6395.

|Zach|
06-08-2006, 07:26 PM
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OldTownChief
06-08-2006, 08:23 PM
Great read. Excellent photos.

Rain Man
06-08-2006, 08:44 PM
Man, disadvantaged kids get all the breaks. They're always getting to meet famous people.

SLAG
06-08-2006, 10:09 PM
Man, disadvantaged kids get all the breaks. They're always getting to meet famous people.


yet i'm happy and thankful my legs work

:hmmm:

:shrug:

Rain Man
06-08-2006, 10:12 PM
yet i'm happy and thankful my legs work

:hmmm:

:shrug:

Well, I'm not saying that it's all wine and roses being a disadvantaged kid...

blueballs
06-14-2008, 04:06 PM
Chiefs Charity Game Bowling Extravaganza
Jun 14, 2008, 10:09:16 AM


Several Kansas City Chiefs players recently joined Operation Breakthrough for the annual Chiefs Charity Game Bowling Extravaganza. There were a dozen Chiefs players in attendance, highlighted by members of the 2008 Chiefs NFL Draft class, such as RB Jamaal Charles, T Barry Richardson, and WR Kevin Robinson. Even former Chiefs G Will Shields was on hand to join in the festivities.

“This is such a deserving charity,” Shields noted. “My wife, Senia, and I have been involved with Operation Breakthrough since I first came to the Chiefs. To see the individuals they touch on a daily basis, it is truly inspiring.”

The event took place at Lunar Bowl in Blue Springs, MO. The players involved mingled with fans, signed autographs, and played a few games of bowling. The event was held in conjunction with the 24th Annual Chiefs Charity Game which is to take place at halftime of the Chiefs-Cardinals game on August 16th.

Since 1985, the Chiefs have donated one of their preseason games to benefit children in the Kansas City area. Over $5 million has been raised since the program’s inception. In fact, the organization has amassed over $1.2 million these past two years, making this game the largest benefit for children in the National Football League. This event is the largest benefit for children in the National Football League.

Operation Breakthrough’s mission is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services and emergency aid.

KcMizzou
06-14-2008, 06:09 PM
Cool stuff. Always nice to hear something positive for a change.

Rain Man
06-14-2008, 08:21 PM
Why do people use the term "inner city"? Not all places in the central part of cities are ghettos. It annoys my wife and me when we attend charity events and hear someone talk about "inner city" kids. The "inner city" kids in half of Denver go to private schools and play polo.

Skip Towne
06-15-2008, 12:19 AM
Why do people use the term "inner city"? Not all places in the central part of cities are ghettos. It annoys my wife and me when we attend charity events and hear someone talk about "inner city" kids. The "inner city" kids in half of Denver go to private schools and play polo.

Yes, but Denver isn't in Missouri.

Dartgod
06-15-2008, 12:28 AM
Why can't I see the photos?

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Phobia
06-15-2008, 08:51 AM
Why do people use the term "inner city"? Not all places in the central part of cities are ghettos. It annoys my wife and me when we attend charity events and hear someone talk about "inner city" kids. The "inner city" kids in half of Denver go to private schools and play polo.

Because some uber-sensitive soul decided that "inner-city" sounded better than any of the alternatives. You should do a study about political correctness. Logical is going to pay. PM him for details.