Panthers' Cam Newton goes the extra mile with annual Thanksgiving event

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Columnist
Yahoo Sports

The Carolina Panthers are coming off a rough loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, one that saw “Riverboat” Ron Rivera go for a two-point conversion and the win in the closing seconds rather than a tie with an extra-point kick.

But Cam Newton had to put it aside for a few hours on Monday, for his annual “Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam” event. This year, the Panthers quarterback went above and beyond with his guests.

Biggest ‘Jam’ yet

This was the seventh year Newton has hosted his Thanksgiving Jam, and it was the biggest one yet: Newton’s foundation rented out the entire TopGolf Charlotte venue so that upward of 1,200 underprivileged kids and some of their relatives could enjoy a holiday meal.

It was roughly 400 more guests than last year.

Keep pounding: Cam Newton welcomed 1,200 children for his seventh annual Thanksgiving Jam on Monday night. (Panthers/Instagram)
Keep pounding: Cam Newton welcomed 1,200 children for his seventh annual Thanksgiving Jam on Monday night. (Panthers/Instagram)

And if that weren’t enough, each guest got a second meal to bring home for Thanksgiving on Thursday.

(The event is held in partnership with Harris Teeter supermarkets.)

Impressively, Newton wished he could do even more.

We want to help as many people as possible,” he said, via the Charlotte Observer. “Just to think, we feed upwards of 1,200 kids and families today and there’s still people that’s still hungry. You just can’t do enough.”

Cecil Newton taught his son about giving

In addition to dozens of volunteers, Newton was joined by his 2-year-old son, Chosen, and his own father, Cecil. Chosen spent much of the night with his grandfather, whom Cam Newton said is responsible for his desire to give to others.

“My father has implemented a lot of great things in me, as well as my mom, and those things still carry true to me,” Newton said. 

“It’s just so heartwarming during the holiday time to be able to spread cheer and show people that we respect everyday Americans,” Cecil Newton said. “We never want to get to a point where we’re not sensitive to what life is like on the other side of the fence.

“One of our keynote scriptures is of whom much is given, much is required. It’s not just about him obtaining wealth. At this point he can distribute influence, distribute dollars in a well-spent manner. That’s what you’re seeing here, we’re collectively trying to come together and do some things to impact the kids.”

Smiles and looking ahead

After stopping at each meal station to help serve some guests, Newton visited with the children, who of course were thrilled to spend a minute with their local star. One questioned why he didn’t run more against the Lions, but Newton took it in stride.

One girl approached and asked for one of Newton’s trademark bracelets. He was reluctant at first because he didn’t have enough bracelets for everyone, but relented and said he’d give her one if she could spell “special,” which she did.

Newton is already looking forward to next year, and wants to do even more: a Jam with 2,000 kids.

Cecil Newton believes his son’s good deeds could change some lives.

“There’s probably a person here this year or next year who, 10 years from now, might be a politician, might be a sports star, might be an educator,” Cecil said. “This might launch their belief system and expand their horizon about what life is really about. Sometimes you might be in the projects, but the projects don’t have to be in you.”

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