HAWKINSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson is in Hawkinsville this weekend.
The town of less than 6,000 in Pulaski County is where he grew up, and where each year, he comes home to give back.
Since 2012, the Charles Johnson Foundation has hosted a summer weekend filled with sports clinics and $20,000 college scholarships– two each year to Hawkinsville students. Last year, they added two more.
“So we’re doing the same thing again this year,” Johnson says. “Broadening out to Bleckley County and Wilcox County.”
His goal is to provide a scholarship for students in every county in south Georgia. It’s an investment that’s paying off.
“We have kids that have been to college that are coming back and helping out,” Johnson says. “So it’s like a whole city of help.”
He also has plenty of help from some folks not from Hawkinsville, like NFL buddies Josh Norman and Justin Houston.
“That’s what I try to stress to them,” Johnson says. “You only have two days here of having superstars here in your town that never gets any superstars period. So we’ve got to live the most, got to make sure everybody’s speaking, everybody’s able to talk to the players, make themselves open to them.”
The third round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft says it’s all about changing the culture. He wants kids from small communities to see dreams can become reality.
More than 1,300 kids registered for the event online, but on-site registration is also available.
“We’re going to be deep down here in Hawkinsville (Saturday), but definitely we have room for any kid. We’re trying to get all our kids right–free shoes, free clothes, free STEM clinic, free dance, football. We’re going to do it all.”
Registration starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hawkinsville High School.
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