by Mary Ramsaier
Sandy Creek High School alum and one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, Calvin Johnson Jr., never forgets where it at all started. Johnson continues to give back to his community and his old stomping grounds.
The Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation hosted its free annual “Catching Dreams” camp Saturday at Sandy Creek for high school wide receivers to enhance their football skills. Drills included agility, footwork, catching, speed, and even motivational speaking, along with tips on talking to the media.
Sandy Creek receiver and rising senior Tariq Muhammad has attended the camp since he was an upcoming freshman. Muhammad says, “It’s been amazing to work with him [Johnson] and have a chance to improve my skills for the upcoming season.”
With another NFL season quickly approaching, Johnson is getting sharp as well. With no hesitation, he says there’s “no doubt” that he is ready to kick off his ninth season with the Detroit Lions. Johnson plans to report back in “the best shape of my life.”
Johnson had a select batch of camp counselors with a special tie to the foundation on hand to keep things running smoothly. Each is a scholar-athlete and a member of the Catching Dreams scholarship program. They are all college athletes in the Detroit or Atlanta areas who excel in academics and have shown themselves to be strong leaders on and off the football field.
Malcholm Graham, a Whitewater class of 2013 graduate, is one of 36 student-athlete scholars in the Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation’s scholarship program. Graham shares the best thing about being a part of the organization is learning “how you can have positive impact on other people” and how to become “a man of integrity.”
Johnson continues to hold youth camps because, he says, “This is how I was raised, always finding a way to give back.” Johnson adds, “Many family members who were reverends always were giving back and serving the community.”
He is especially appreciative that he can host his camps at his alma mater.
The camp had a bit of a new look this year for a good reason. Every shirt, hat, and sign featured purple, the new color for the foundation. Purple represents the fight against pancreatic cancer. Calvin’s mother, Dr. Arica Johnson, is a survivor of pancreatic cancer. Dr. Johnson has shown no signs of cancer since last year.
“It’s one of the deadliest forms of cancer,” says Calvin. “It’s worth the awareness.”
With all the success he’s earned through hours of dedication in his career, Calvin Johnson is just as focused on helping others flourish. Living up to the “Catching Dreams” motto for his organization, Johnson strives to use every opportunity to help others catch their own dreams.