Professional athletes love to say that they are doing something for the communities they came from, yet those efforts are sometimes much more talk than actual action. Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley backs up his community pledges with cold hard cash.
As reported by Michigan ABC affiliate WJRT, Woodley was concerned about pay-to-play fees in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, so he decided to singlehandedly wipe them out. The superstar linebacker cut a check for more than $60,000 to the Saginaw Public Schools athletic department to cover the $75 fee each student was expected to pay to compete in school athletics during the 2012 season.
"It provides each student an opportunity to play," Saginaw Public Schools athletic director Jeffrey Goodwine told WJRT. "Some of the social economic problems that we're having here in Saginaw, that takes a lot of pressure off a lot of the students, the parents. Now we know that a student athlete will play or participate if he or she wants to go out for a team."
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That's a huge help for a struggling community that still needs every break it can get, even as the American auto industry continues to rebound.
Woodley's donation is a significant one, even for someone who earns approximately $4 million per year. When one breaks down the numbers further, Woodley's donation turns out to be more than three-quarters of a week's salary for the Steelers star (Woodley's weekly paycheck is approximately $77,000).
There's no indication that the pay-to-play fees will end after the 2012-13 school year, or that Woodley would make a similar donation to clear up any financial struggles in the future. Still, for now the linebacker has emerged as an unforeseen hero for students who otherwise might have found their athletic talents stifled by financial difficulties.
"Our team, it teaches us discipline," Saginaw (Mich.) High football player Terrance Spiller told WJRT. "How to be a man in a way. Responsibility, like being here on time. Work ethics and how to get along with others, so it carries over into school and the real world when we go off to college and he's just giving everybody a chance to continue that."
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