Kickoff to Success

Kickoff to Success Football Camp will show Fort Dodge kids that it is possible to be a success.

Brandon Meriweather of the Washington Redskins and Dezman Moses of the Kansas City Chiefs are participating in the one-day youth football camp.

“It’s just a day where the kids can come and do their whole fun football thing, but also get some inspiration and have it live for the day,” Vanessa Brown, event organizer, said. “Just to see someone come into their town who came from a smaller town, and stayed in school and made their own path and came out successful. I want them to see that.”

Brown, a Fort Dodge native, said such inspiration can be hard to find in a small town.

“You always see it on TV, but you never really see it in person, so it seems kind of farfetched sometimes, with goals and things like that,” she said. “I wanted them to have it in their face, be able to shake their hand and see firsthand and hear from them their stories, and be able to do some football with them. Just motivate them, really.”

Getting professional National Football League players involved was its own challenge.

“Dezman, he went to (University of) Iowa and my friend who’s also from Fort Dodge went to Iowa, so she knew him,” Brown said. “And (Meriweather) I just kind of, through people, got into contact with and just asked him on a whim. I asked about four players, and these two are the ones who committed.”

The focus of the camp will be activities for children, Brown said. After a check-in and warm-up, kids will participate in football drills and practice, including passing games. The day will end with a question and answer period.

“We have burrito lunches for the kids so they can sit down and eat and ask questions and listen to the players talk,” she said. “After that we’re going to do an autograph session and photographs.”

This is the first time the camp has been held, and for Brown the effort is an important one.

“With all the shootings going on, it’s like every year I come to visit, it’s just there’s more stuff going on that’s turning these kids in the wrong direction,” she said. “I know it’s not all of them, but I just wanted to do something to maybe change their mind.”

Creating the football camp is its own success story.

“I thought of it last year, and I never thought I could pull it off, to be honest,” Brown said. “But in January I started making phone calls and seeing what I could come up with, and then it happened. So it all worked out.”

Kickoff to Success Football Camp will be held at Dodger Stadium Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.