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|Big Whit weekend arrives|
The Big Whit 77 Foundation will make its debut Friday, July 17, with the kick off of the first-ever Big Whit weekend.
It is being spearheaded by Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth and his wife, Melissa, a former Miss. Louisiana.
Whitworth and his wife established the foundation to mentor local youth, provide financial assistance to children with life-threatening diseases and a partner with local agencies to help families adopt children.
Events include a golf tournament with several NFL players, a free concert by Bengals tight-end Ben Utecht, an offensive lineman camp and dinner with Whitworth and his teammates.
The Big Whit Golf Classic is scheduled for Friday at Southern Pines Golf Club in Calhoun.
The Big Whit Offensive Lineman Camp will be held Saturday at West Monroe High School.
To wrap up the Big Whit weekend, a benefit dinner will be held where people can learn more about the foundation. It will begin at 6 p.m. at The Aubrey Hall in Monroe.
Whitworth spoke late last week at the Monroe Rotary Club, which featured Gov. Bobby Jindal as the guest speaker.
He said he is living proof that good things can happen to those who put in enough effort to accomplish their goals and dreams.
Take his football career for example. As a 7th grader at Ouachita Christian High School, the last thing on Whitworth's mind was football. He wanted to play basketball, in a gym, where there was an air-conditioner.
"I had never played football, and I got asked to play for Ouachita Christian," Whitworth said. "I said, 'Coach, I don't really think helmets and pads and grass and hot weather is my thing.'"
"I wanted to play basketball in the gym with the AC and plenty of breaks," Whitworth continued. "Well coach said I had to do it."
For this first day of practice, Whitworth donned full pads for hitting drills.
"One little kid told me I had better be ready because I was about to go against the best football player in Monroe," Whitworth explained. "I said, 'Yeah, right.' I was bigger than everyone and I thought I was going to run this person over.
"I get ready to go, and coach says, "All right Andrew, this is my daughter, Molly, get ready. I look around like they can't be serious, but she's ready to go. Well, she runs me flat over. On the totem pole, there's a good football player, a bad football player, a very bad football player, and then there's run over by a girl.
"So, I started my football career at the bottom. I learned that day that passion, toughness, courage, effort and how I approach every single day was going to make a difference in whether I did something.
"My very first day was terrible. But, had I quit, would I have gotten a chance to go to West Monroe and win three state titles, go to LSU, and then to the NFL. I want to have that impact on kids in northeast Louisiana. We want this foundation to teach kids to be successful as a person every single day and be a champion in every way."
For more information about the foundation and upcoming events, visit the foundation's website at bigwhit77.com, or call 396-4094.