The atmosphere was joyous on a late June afternoon at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex in Fargo, North Dakota, as 200 young athletes met and learned from two of their favorite players.
NFL quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Easton Stick returned to the North Dakota State campus for the 2021 Sanford POWER Football Clinic, bringing their own version of star power back to their alma mater.
“I think these events, these clinics, are huge for the community, (and) are huge for the kids to just get involved. It’s awesome that Sanford’s putting it on here at NDSU, and for kids to be on campus here and on our practice field. I think it’s just really good for the community and for these kids to kind of look at the facilities around here to see, ‘Hey, maybe one day, this can be me playing out here, practicing out here.’ I think it’s great for everybody,” said Wentz.
The clinic is part of a continuing effort by Sanford Health to enrich their communities not just through health care, but through community events and unique experiences as well.
“We want to do things for these kids that we’re going to be potentially providing care for as well, that we are more than just health care,” said Greg Stemen, senior community relations specialist with Sanford Health. “We are about strong communities, we are about giving back, we are about making lives better.”
“Sanford’s such a great group of people to work with and team up on this. They do such a good job all over the region … but to have it here in Fargo where, really this is a second home for me and in a place that I’ll always feel that way about,” said Stick.
“And so to be able to give back to the kids in this community, I mean, it’s such a fun time. How much the community invested in me and my teammates when I was here … to kind of be on the other end and be able to get kids together here on campus, that’s such a great gift we can do.”
For Sanford, this event was focused on Fargo and young football players in the Fargo area. But the goal is to provide these types of events wherever possible.
“When you go from Sioux Falls to Fargo to Bemidji to Bismarck and all of our rural footprint … we do want to give back to those communities,” Stemen said.
Return to campus, childhood
Wentz, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, and Stick, who plays for the Los Angeles Chargers, made the most of their time back on campus. They provided encouragement and advice for kids who may have their own dreams of playing for the Bison, or even in the NFL, someday. And they both reminisced about growing up and having opportunities like this when they were younger.
“Anytime you get a chance to go to a football camp as a kid, you look forward to it. You look forward to seeing your buddies, getting out of the house, just going to play. So for these kids, I’m excited. Cause I was that kid once,” said Wentz.
“I remember being that little kid. That’s why it’s so exciting to be back out here and get a chance to give back a little bit that way. Because I was that kid, never wanted to do anything else other than be those [football players]. So to get a chance to be on the other side of it is really exciting,” said Stick.
For the 200 children who attended the clinic and played alongside their heroes for one afternoon, the memories will last a lifetime. And who knows? Maybe someday one of them will be hosting their own clinic, and reminiscing about the fun they once had as well.
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