Before the start of the 2012 NFL season, former Booker T. Washington and Union High School standouts Robert Meachem and Dominique Franks will shine a light on an important issue that outweighs their time on the field.
Before Robert Meachem signed with the San Diego Chargers during this offseason, his former team, the New Orleans Saints, and Franks' current team, the Atlanta Falcons, would duke it out on the field for the NFC South championship. Since they no longer consider themselves rivals on the field, they have come together to make the community they grew up in a better place for kids.
"Being able to help give back to the community I grew up in is the main reason why I chose Tulsa to host our event," Franks said. Meachem couldn't agree more. "We partnered with Tulsa City/County Library to promote Literacy," Meachem said. Meachem also said that after-school programs kept him on the right path in order to achieve his dreams.
Back in 2007, Meachem founded the non-profit organization, The Robert Emery Meachem Follow Your Dream Foundation, which aims to provide school aged children with books and to focus on the development of children and youth in the Tulsa area. Meachem and The Follow Your Dreams Foundation strive day in and day out to reach large audiences of youth by offering unique experiences and The Dream Scholarship to help young people reach their dreams as he was able to do.
"I started the Follow Your Dreams Foundation to inspire youth to follow their dreams. And to make the community a better place," Meachem said. Meachem grew up in Tulsa and after graduating from Booker T. Washington High School attended the University of Tennessee. The first team All-American set school records by posting 71 catches for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2006. In 2007, Meachem was drafted 27 overall by the New Orleans Saints in NFL Draft. In 2010, Meachem and the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts and were crowned Super Bowl XLIV champions.
Franks was a highly sought after recruit coming out of Union High School, where the in-state product was selected Tulsa World Oklahoma Player of the Year and first-team All-State as a senior. Franks enrolled at Oklahoma in 2006, where he redshirted while competing on the scout team. The following season, he played behind Marcus Walker at cornerback before earning his first career start against West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, producing three of his six tackles for the season. He spent most of the year on special teams, averaging 10.33 yards on 12 punt returns while gaining 37 yards on a kickoff return. In 2010, the Atlanta Falcons picked Franks in the 5th round of the NFL Draft.
After attending one of Meachem's football camps, Franks wanted to collaborate on a project together. "Last year I volunteered for his football camp, and we talk about joining together to reach more kids in the Tulsa Area," Franks said. That project is the Who Dat Dirty Bird Celebrity Weekend, which kicks off Thursday, June 21 and will end on Sunday, June 24. The name of the event came from a likely source. "We named the event the Who Dat Dirty Bird because Meachem played for the New Orleans Saints and their saying is 'Who Dat' and I play for the Atlanta Falcons and our saying is 'Dirty Bird,'" Franks said.
The celebrity-filled weekend will consist of a celebrity basketball game, where sports fans of all ages can watch Meachem and Franks play former University of Oklahoma and current Los Angeles Clippers basketball player, Blake Griffin, former University of Oklahoma and current St. Louis Rams quarterback, Sam Bradford and Houston Texans running back, Arian Foster.
"Some of the players that will be joining us at the Tulsa Convention Center are Tracy Porter (Denver Broncos), Chris Harris (Denver Broncos) and many more," Meachem said. Although Meachem plays football, his heart belongs to another sport. "Basketball is my first love, and what better way to raise funds for the Dreams Scholarship," Meachem said. "I decided to hold the Who Dat Dirty Bird Celebrity Weekend in Tulsa because my foundation, Follow Your Dreams Foundation, is based in Tulsa. The Dream Scholarship, which is for Tulsa Area high school students and what better way to raise money for this scholarship then to bring in some of my celebrity friends to help me achieve that goal." The celebrity basketball game will take place on June 23, 2012 at 2pm at the Tulsa Convention Center. Tickets can be bought online at fydf.org/tickets or any BOK Center outlet.
Other events taking place are the Follow Your Dreams Football Camp, which is taking place on June 22 at Booker T. Washington High School from 9am-2pm. There will be plenty of opportunities for kids to interact with current and former NFL players. They'll also participate in drills designed to enhance skills and movement, while also gaining qualities that enhance physical, mental and emotional growth. Kids must be between the ages of 10-18. You can register at fydf.org/register. In order to attend the came, kids must obtain a FYDF Library Card, which can be obtained at any Tulsa City-County Library.
Share this article: