Detroit — While the Detroit Lions are seeking consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in two decades, veteran safety Don Carey is well on his way to earning his own back-to-back honors.
On Saturday, the team’s reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his work in the community hosted a unique camp for more than 200 local youth, ages 8-17, at Martin Luther King, Jr. high school, two miles down the road from Ford Field.
The camp, which divided its focus between STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational activities and football drills, was attended by nearly 20 of Carey’s teammates, including running back Zach Zenner, rookie cornerback Teez Tabor and defensive end Kerry Hyder.
“I’m super excited to see guys willing to give up a Saturday with OTAs and the stress that puts on them learning the playbooks, they’ve taken the time to come inspire a young child,” Carey said.
The festivities opened with breakfast, followed by a presentation with live music and guest speakers, including Barrington Irving, who in 2007 became the youngest person and first black person to pilot a solo flight around the world.
Working through the Ford Fund, which helped put on Carey’s camp, Barrington recently completed a project with 50 Detroit-area high school students, assembling a working 1965 Ford Daytona Coupe. The car, painted in the Lions’ Honolulu blue and silver color scheme, was on display outside the high school Saturday.
“Barrington is an awesome individual,” Carey said. “He’s done some tremendous things.”
After the presentation, the youth split into two groups with the younger students hitting the field first, running through a number of drills with Lions players coaching at each station.
“My heart is here in Detroit and I love inspiring the children,” Carey said. “I tell people all the time, besides God and my family, putting a smile on a child’s face is my joy.”
The older kids stayed inside the school, where 15 organizations set up a variety of educational activities.
Presenters for the STEAM portion of the camp included; Ford Motor Company, Arts and Scrap, Wayne State University School of Medicine and College of Engineering, University of Detroit Mercy Chemist Club, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, STEM Education Coalition, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Madonna University, and Henry Ford Community College.
And while football was the lure, Carey hoped the educational offerings would connect with the campers. He said it’s important to erase the stereotypes that math and science are for nerds and to show the students the opportunities a good education can provide later in life.
“I want to tear down some of those mindsets and show them how cool those areas can be,” Carey said. “I want them to, number one, take something from the STEAM activities inside.
“Secondly, I would like them to talk to the players and get to know the men behind the facemasks.”
The man behind Carey’s facemask is one dedicated to making a positive impact in the community, and on Saturday, he was rewarded with the smiles of those he’s so eager to serve.