What do Clayton home builders do when they aren’t building homes? Well, for the home building facility in Lewistown, PA, team members choose to spend some of their free time to get on the football field and play against the Burnham Bulldogs, a youth football team of special needs players from Burnham, PA.
How the Teams Kicked-off
The relationship all began when JP Quinn, who has been Senior Market Development Manager at the Marlette Lewistown building facility for 4 years, began playing against the Bulldogs with his church. Quinn’s church’s team got together almost weekly to play a fun game of football with the children, and the league lasted for most of the summer.
After playing with the team, Quinn realized that the experience was good not only for the kids, but for himself as well. Quinn decided that this was an experience he wanted to share with his team members.
“I came back and talked to some of my peers here and it would be a good idea for us guys here to give back a little and give a little competition to the bulldogs,” Quinn said.
According to Bill Wagner, Marlette Lewistown Facility Manager, the team members at the home building facility had seen what Quinn’s church’s team had been doing with the Bulldogs and their special players in the local newspapers.
“JP came to us one morning and told us what they do with the Burnham Bulldogs,” Wagner said. “He told us about his church and his neighbors, and how good it was for them. And we all looked at each other and said ya know, this is something we probably want to get involved in.”
Wagner, Quinn and other team members formed their team in 2016 to play against the Burnham Bulldogs.
Games to Remember
Burnham Bulldogs coach, Kenny Varner, is so appreciative of the Marlette team that comes out to spend time with the children on his team by competing with them.
“We play a lot of competitive teams,” Varner said. “When we play Marlette, we know it’ll be fun, competitive and lots of laughs. There is an instant rapport between the two teams when they start. It’s just like a family.”
Varner had previously known Quinn through other community sports. Varner spoke with Quinn one night while Quinn was refereeing a soccer game about the program, and this eventually led to Quinn getting involved with the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs player, David Fye, is especially vocal about his love for playing on the team. He, as well as other players, love coming out to play football against the Marlette team and other teams.
“I have been thinking about playing all my life,” Fye said. “It’s been like a dream for me to actually play football.”
Players on the Burnham Bulldogs get a chance to play multiple positions, and they all get a chance to play running back, but Fye is one of the team’s defensive line specialists. Varner mentioned that Fye may be small, but he gets out there with the big guys and brings in the competition.
“He’s not afraid to talk a little smack with the other guys,” Varner said.
A Lasting Mission for All
According to Varner, the Bulldogs team was started about eleven years ago. The Bulldogs’ mission is to be actively involved with the youth in the community and inspire the best in the children they serve.
The program aims to teach the children the traits of motivation, commitment, discipline, sportsmanship, fundamentals and respect. Varner and other participants hope to also teach the kids teamwork, fair play, discipline, hard work and most importantly, how to have fun!
Varner mentioned how important the football league is for the players as it gives them an outlet to play sports, which they all love. The local public schools don’t have sports available to these players, but the Bulldogs team gives players like Fye a way to play.
“It gives them an avenue to play sports,” Varner said. “Once we began, they [the players] began to come in droves. They get to be that Sunday afternoon hero.”
Varner also spoke on how the football team has transformed the players’ interactions with the community. The players have increased confidence, and when they go out into the community, people yell their nicknames and they are known as local celebrities.
As a company, Clayton and all of its brands find it important to give back to local communities. Marlette’s partnership with the Bulldogs falls right in line with our guiding principal to leave the world better than we found it.
You can read more about how Clayton gives back in other communities in other Season of Giving posts!