Ri­d­ley holds char­ity bowl­ing event for chil­dren

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By David Furones Staff writer dfurones@sunsen­tinel.com, Twit­ter @DavidFurones_

DAVIE — Zack Rehman was giv­ing out ath­letic train­ing for free to kids who couldn’t af­ford it at an open field in Mar­gate one day in 2012 when he re­mem­bers work­ing with Calvin Ri­d­ley for the first time.

Rehman was start­ing his TUFF Start pro­gram to pro­vide sup­port for un­der­priv­i­leged youth in South Florida. As the pro­gram has grown over the years, Ri­d­ley has blos­somed — first into a five-star re­cruit at Monarch, then into a top­notch col­lege foot­ball wide­out and fi­nally into a firstround pick for the At­lanta Fal­cons.

It hasn’t even been three months since Ri­d­ley was drafted, but he’s al­ready find­ing char­i­ta­ble ways to give back to those that helped him along his path to the NFL.

Ri­d­ley, a Fort Lauderdale na­tive, held his in­au­gu­ral Bowl­ing For The Boys char­ity and fundrais­ing event at Davie bowl­ing al­ley Bowlero on Thurs­day night with pro­ceeds go­ing to the TUFF Start pro­gram.

A to­tal of ap­prox­i­mately 200 guests gath­ered, many to meet and greet with Ri­d­ley, take pic­tures, par­tic­i­pate in a raf­fle for au­to­graphed bowl­ing pins and bid in a silent auc­tion on a num­ber of prize pack­ages that in­cluded signed mem­o­ra­bilia. Chil­dren cur­rently in TUFF Start, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion which seeks to as­sist lo­cal chil­dren that are dis­ad­van­taged, hit the lanes with Ri­d­ley.

“I just wanted to come out and show my face and give back to where I started,” Ri­d­ley said. “Zack has just been like one of those older broth­ers in our lives. Very, very help­ful. Al­ways worked us out. Al­ways was there for us.”

Rehman ap­pre­ci­ates how Ri­d­ley kept in mind some­thing he told him when he was younger and sees it up­lift­ing the next gen­er­a­tion.

“One thing I al­ways in­stilled in him as a man that’s go­ing places is you’ve got to give back to the ones that are less for­tu­nate,” he said. “Kids that look just like you might not have any hope, but they see your story and they know if they pur­sue their dreams or their goals, they’ll make it.”

Among guests were Mi­ami Dol­phins run­ning back Kenyan Drake, who also is rep­re­sented by Ri­d­ley’s agent, Ben Se­tas, and Fal­cons out­side linebacker Ke­mal Ish­mael, who at­tended North Mi­ami Beach High and was drafted out of UCF in 2013.

Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes’ fresh­man de­fen­sive end Greg Rousseau was there, along with cur­rent four-star St. Thomas Aquinas de­fen­sive end Braylen In­gra­ham. Be­fore play­ing at Hialeah Cham­pag­nat Catholic, Rousseau was team­mates with Ri­d­ley at Monarch when he was a fresh­man and Ri­d­ley a se­nior.

TUFF Start is open­ing up a fa­cil­ity in Mar­gate within the next month for sports per­for­mance and af­ter­school en­rich­ment for chil­dren in the pro­gram.

Ri­d­ley be­gins Fal­cons’ train­ing camp on July 26 when play­ers re­port.

JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF FILE

Calvin Ri­d­ley raised funds for the TUFF Start pro­gram at his in­au­gu­ral Bowl­ing For The Boys char­ity event.

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