The Founder

Draft Makes A Difference

By Brett Grassmuck

No matter what city he‟s in or what NFL team he plays for, linebacker Chris Draft wants to make a difference.

That is exactly what he did when he partnered with Pepsi/Aquafina and the Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers to clean up Barrett Brothers Park, which lies in the area of the recent shooting death of St. Louis police officer Norvell Brown.

“We believe we can make a difference,” Draft said. I believe I can, we believe we can and that‟s why we‟re out here. I understand that this is your community, it‟s my community, it‟s our community. We‟re the St. Louis Rams, so whatever happens in St. Louis represents us.”

Draft, joined by wide receiver Drew Bennett, tight end Dominique Byrd, linebackers Tim McGarigle and Raonall Smith and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan piled into Dodge trucks after practice on Saturday, September 1, and headed to the park where, along with over 150 volunteers, they assisted in a cleanup effort, picking up trash and making the park a more pleasant destination for community members.

The volunteer group consisted largely of kids between the ages of eight and 13 from the Herbert Hoover City Recreational Football League as well as
miscellaneous kids from the neighborhood. The kids were joined by Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and police officers involved with the local initiative Do the Right Thing, which works with local police departments to help kids make good choices and build character.

The cleanup effort especially hit home with Pepsi/Aquafina, because the park is part of the neighborhood where the company is housed.

“It‟s our neighborhood; that‟s where we work,” said John Barnes, Pepsi/Aquafina vice president of field sales. “We have 500 employees that work in that same
neighborhood, so to have the opportunity to invest in the area and give back and partner with the Rams was awesome.”

When Draft came to St. Louis, he brought with him a message of community, working together and building character, and he shared that message with the
volunteers during the cleanup effort. “Becoming a team starts with little things,” Draft said. “We‟re going to be out here picking up some trash and talking a little bit, but that‟s really what it comes down to, the little things.”

Draft also relayed a message of being rewarded for hard work, so thanks to Pepsi/Aquafina and Shop „n Save, each of the volunteers received tickets to the Rams home game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 16 as a surprise gift.

“That‟s really the most exciting piece of our involvement in this thing,” Barnes said. “We‟re going to partner with Shop „n Save, and we‟re able to make some kids, some people in the community and some of the police officers who do good work in the community happy. Hopefully they will have a great time.”

From Atlanta, to Carolina, to St. Louis, Draft is committed to making a difference, and he is quickly becoming a leader in the St. Louis community.

“This is not about doing something just to do it,” Draft said. “It‟s about being real. We don‟t make a difference as individuals, we make a difference together. That‟s why football is so great. When you make a difference as a football team, you make a difference by being a team. When you just have a whole bunch of individuals on that team, you look good, the uniforms look nice and all those nice little things, but until you become a team, you don‟t really make a difference.”