NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- From Booker T. Washington High School to Norfolk State to the NFL, Don Carey found plenty of success on the gridiron. Now he's using the game to help students excel away from football.
Carey, a Norfolk native, has plenty of memories in a Bookers uniform.
"I'm from Norfolk, I walked these halls in the early 2000's, I know the situations that a lot of the students are in who grew up around here," he pointed out.
Carey, who enjoyed a 10-year NFL career as a defensive back, is now a member of Chesapeake City Council. He and his wife, Lakeisha, operate their REECH Foundation, which stands for reaching, educating and empowering children. This past weekend, the foundation used football as the hook to broaden horizons, hosting its annual STEAM Day and Youth Football Camp.
"It's a great unifier," Carey said. "Regardless of your demographic, your background, football is able to bring people together and while we have their attention we want to expose them to other possibilities outside of football."
What kind of possibilities? Friday and Saturday saw the REECH Foundation focusing on STEAM- science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. These things can present students with endless potential careers. The foundation worked with local businesses and vendors to provide a doorway to new things for the next generation.
"We bring in vendors and STEAM partners to come in and do activities ranging from airport, NASA to botanical gardens with animals and plants, so all over the STEAM field," Lakeisha explained.
From the classroom to the gridiron, Norfolk Public School students, ages 6-17, learned a wide array of skills and even though football may have been the activity that got them in the door, they found themselves diving into the other possibilities as well.
"The cool thing, kids normally come for the football aspect," Carey noted. "Yesterday, we had a hard time getting the kids away from the STEAM to go play football."
He's a person who was once in their shoes, now using his platform to open doors and help today's kids reach for the stars.
"To be able to impact them the way STEAM and football has impacted me in my life means so much," said Carey. "Hopefully I can help be that catalyst to expand their horizons to new opportunities."
The REECH Foundation will host another STEAM camp in October that will be open to students throughout Hampton Roads.