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Purdue youth camps scores with name change, partnership | Community News | Lafayette Online
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Purdue youth camps scores with name change, partnership

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s award-winning National Youth Sports Program has a new name and partnership thanks to old friends, Drew Brees and Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union.

Drew Brees greets campers
Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and former Purdue University football player, visits with campers at Purdue’s 2007 National Youth Sports Program. (Purdue News Service file photo/David Umberger)

The camp will now be known as PALS, Purdue Athletes Life Success Program, and will benefit from its relationship with The Brees Dream Foundation and Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union, which is known as PEFCU. Brees and PEFCU are partnering to raise funds for PALS with a celebrity golf event on June 14 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex. Other former Purdue athletes attending the golf event include Kyle Orton, Bob DeMoss, Leroy Keyes, Mark Hermann and Nick Hardwick.

The Brees Dream Foundation and PEFCU have committed $50,000 from this event in each of the next five years to Purdue’s youth sports camp for underprivileged children, ages 10-16. Any additional funds raised from the golf outing will be distributed by the Brees Dream Foundation and PEFCU.

The former Boilermaker All-America quarterback, current quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and PEFCU spokesperson, has visited the camp annually since 2003 as part of PEFCU’s emphasis to support local youth. Funds from last year’s golf outing, presented by PEFCU, were donated to the Purdue program. This year’s camp is scheduled for June 12 through July 11, and Brees will visit the campers on June 13.

“Greater Lafayette is a generous community and I enjoy coming back each summer,” Drew Brees said. “I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to work with community-minded organizations like PEFCU and Purdue to benefit local children through my foundation.”

As part of the PEFCU partnership, the camp’s evolving life success program will include a unit that focuses on financial literacy taught by PEFCU employees. The credit union works with many classrooms during the school year to support financial wellness for youth.

“We believe strongly in promoting financial literacy to our youth,” said Bill Connors, PEFCU’s chief executive officer. “We also find it a natural fit with the PALS program, as they prepare our local youth with the skills for a well-rounded, healthy life. The existing relationship between our organizations and our shared commitment to children in our area makes this a great partnership.”

Tee time for the second annual Brees Dream Foundation Golf Outing is at 1:15 p.m., but golfers can arrive at 11 a.m. for check-in, lunch, car and club service and warm up with official Nike club demonstrations. Player registration and hole sponsorship information is available by calling (765) 497-7444. The fee is $125 a person and $500 for a foursome. Fees include lunch, golf shirt, and a cocktail reception where exclusive sports memorabilia will be auctioned off by Brees after golf. The community also is invited to bid on silent auction items and attend the public galleries on the course for a chance to meet and greet former Purdue athletes.

“The partnership with PEFCU and the Brees Dream Foundation, as well as the individuals and companies who participate in this fundraiser, will help hundreds of children learn about self-confidence, academic success, healthy lifestyles and sports while attending PALS,” said Bill Harper, PALS program director and professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology.

“A couple years ago, Drew helped us hand out bicycles donated each year by PEFCU to honor children for their attendance and positive attitudes. These campers rode their new bikes around Purdue’s Rankin Track. One of the young boys had not ridden a bicycle before, so Drew stepped up and pushed him on his bike around the quarter mile track in the hot sun.

“Drew is more than just a great friend to our program. He is a tremendous role model for these youngsters to look up to, and not just on the field, but in the classroom and in life. His visits are certainly the highlight for many of these campers.”

Purdue’s program is free for the campers, and they are selected based on referrals from local schools. The national program has honored Purdue’s camp for its achievements, including being named best new program in 2002 and special recognition for its 2004 and 2005 programs.

The National Youth Sports Program began in 1969 and in 2005 there were more than 200 programs nationwide. However, the program’s federal funding was reduced, and in 2006, Purdue’s program was one of 56 in the nation to receive partial funding. Federal funding was withdrawn from all National Youth Sports Programs in 2007, but Purdue’s camp successfully continued, thanks to support from the university and private donors.

More than 1,000 children have attended since the camp began in 2002. The students, in teams of 15, rotate through activity stations that include basketball, softball, swimming, soccer and volleyball. The older campers also get to participate in additional special activities, such as golf and bowling. Stations are strategically spaced about 10 minutes from each other to make sure each student walks at least one hour a day. Previous campers have received new shoes and swimsuits, as well as other participation prizes such as bicycles, as rewards for attendance and sportsmanship.

“Campers receive instruction in various sports activities with innovative games used to increase aerobic capacity, strength and flexibility,” Harper said. “Our goal is to keep the campers moving and inspire a love of physical activity in them. Yes, they are learning about the rules of soccer and how to shoot a free throw, but we really want to inspire them to stay active.

“We also design activities for students to learn about self-responsibility, mutual respect, responsibility to others, teamwork, leadership and good citizenship. Some of our campers even put these skills to use when they return as junior team leaders, then share what they’ve learned with others.”

Because the program receives much community support, giving back is a central theme for Purdue’s program, Harper said. Last year campers participated in community outreach, such as helping the American Cancer Society set up its Relay for Life fundraiser, organizing items at Trinity Mission’s thrift shop and visiting with veterans at the Indiana Veterans’ Home. Other organizations will be selected this year.

Purdue researchers in the Department of Health and Kinesiology also are studying how participation in the camp benefits children by measuring their physical fitness and academic achievement year round. Research results, as well as anecdotal evidence from the local schools, are showing that participation in the camp has a significant positive effect on the attitudes of children regarding social relationships, education, self-perception and sportsmanship.

Brees played for the Boilermakers from 1997 to 2000 and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management. As a student-athlete, he received the inaugural Socrates Award, recognizing the nation’s finest athlete in terms of academics, athletics and community service. He has been serving as PEFCU’s spokesperson since 2000.

His wife, Brittany, who also attended Purdue and earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision in 2000, runs the Brees Dream Foundation full-time in its mission to provide education and create opportunities for disadvantaged children, especially those suffering from the debilitating effects of cancer. The Brees Dream Foundation also is involved in a campaign with Operation Kids, dedicated to serving the many needs of New Orleans children – their education, health, welfare, safety and well-being.

They also have contributed $2 million to create the Drew and Brittany Brees Student Athlete Academic Center in the expanded Mackey Arena project. The Student-Athlete Academic Center currently consists of a computer lab and study, research and tutor areas totaling 6,500 square feet. Plans call for the space to increase to 11,000 square feet after offices currently occupied by coaches and administrators are moved into Mackey Arena as part of that facility’s makeover, which is scheduled to be completed in 2011. Upgrades to the 40-year-old basketball arena include improved seating, ticket offices and other amenities for fans, as well as the opportunity to bring academic, athletic and training needs into one complex.

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 September 2021