Bengals running back thrills both young and old –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
A large number of Adams Countians got to see the human side of a professional football player last weekend as Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard made a visit that turned out to be a special treat for both young and old. The main purpose of Bernard’s visit was a benefit dinner for his Run Gio Foundation, but before that took place, he made the day of a group of local youth football players.
Through some special arrangements, Bernard made the trip to Adams County a bit early on Saturday afternoon and his first stop was the practice fields in Seaman, where a very enthusiastic group of North Adams youth football players lined the street with chants of “Gio, Gio, Gio!” Bernard spoke to the youngsters and their parents, then took the time to fire off a few passes that every kid was anxious to catch, then signed numerous photos, jerseys, footballs, and hats to further please an already enraptured audience.
After his stop in Seaman, Bernard, along with his agent and girlfriend who were traveling with him, made the trip to the beautiful McCoy’s Vista at Poplar Flats, where a benefit dinner was set up to raise funds for his foundation, which is set up to do work in Haiti, at the present trying to make improvements to a school named after his mother.
“This is my first time doing this but we have had other events to raise money,” Bernard told The People’s Defender. “For me, this foundation is so close to my heart mostly because the school in Haiti is named after my Mom. It is something that I care for and that I want to grow. There are a lot of kids over there that need the help and obviously there are a lot of kids over here that need the help, so it is just me being able to raise money to be able to do certain things fir the kids.”
“This past summer we were able to get some solar panels up for the school to bring some electricity there and down the line I want to see some bathrooms because what they have is not very sanitary. We’d like to also pave down the entire courtyard. It’s a project and it takes time and patience and it takes a lot of helping hands involved.”
“The people here in Adams County are so great in helping us out being able to do something like this,” Bernard continued. “The drive up here was really awesome and I don’t get to see this kind of scenery very often and it just takes you back to a more slow and relaxed kind of lifestyle.”
The event was organized mainly through the efforts of Tyler Ryan from Ryan Wealth Strategies, along with the help of a number of other sponsors, with a dinner catered by the Scioto Ribber. The process of bringing the Run Gio event to Adams County was a long one but something that Ryan hopes can continue in the area.
“This event has been in the works for about a year now,” said Ryan. “We talked to a lot of different foundations and tried to make this work out and we were very blessed to be able to get in touch with Gio and his agent and they were so excited to make this trip out and make this fun. They went out of their way to visit the kids this afternoon and we have been so happy with the community response and we hope we can do something like this every year, maybe a golf scramble next year. It’s all going to a great cause and we were more than happy to help out however we could.
After the dinner, the remainder of the evening consisted of a raffle and auction of Bengals items and memorabilia and Bernard’s remarks to the audience, though he claimed not to be the best of public speakers. He told the story of his Mom passing away when he was young and how he tried to get to college while working and playing baseball and football like his brothers.
“I wanted to do something for the school,” said Bernard. “Thank God that I have the platform where I can really focus and put my foundation out there to help so many people.”
It is well-known how giving the citizens of Adams County are with these types of benefits and Saturday night was no different, as the event raised $12,000 for the Run Gio Foundation, money which will put as many smiles on the faces of the children in Haiti as the smiles that Bernard brought to Adams County.