For the past four years, Graceville alum and former University of Kentucky football player Anthony "Champ" Kelly returns to the Panhandle to host C.H.A.M.P. Camp, a football camp for youth which not only teaches football fundamentals, but fundamentals for a successful life, and Champ's quick to tell you, he couldn't do it alone.
Champ loves to give back. Yesterday at Deane Bozeman School, close to 300 kids received his gift, that of knowledge and love for the game of football through his annual C.H.A.M.P Camp.
"It is awesome to be back home," he said on Friday.
Every year, Champ doesn't make the trip alone, as over two dozen other coaches make the trip with him.
"It's not really about what you give, it's about what you give back," said longtime friend Damian Thompson. "Everybody can take. People are really good about taking and receiving gifts, but giving the gift of your time and your life is pretty important."
"He's a role model for us," said Glenn Holt. "He's a role model for the other guys at Kentucky. He's a great guy. When he asked me to come out, I'm going to come out."
Damian and Glenn are repeat C.H.A.M.P. Camp coaches- two of several coaches who come back year after year, and receive no compensation for their time and commitment.
"You could tell they're really dedicated by doing that," said Bozeman rising junior David Elmore. "It helps a lot. They're trying to get us to where they've been so they can say they got us there and they helped out, and they knew who we were and stuff. It's really cool for them to come back and help out."
"Just to come out here and give kids some hope," said Holt of why he loves coming to Camp every year. "Just to give them a sense of direction, that there is a chance that a guy like me from inner-city Miami, can take football and go to a Division I College and have a degree. I just want to continue to encourage kids to continue to compete and go for what you want."
"That's what the C.H.A.M.P. Camp is all about," said Champ. "These coaches coming out here, and willing to teach and to invest in these kids."
The two day camped wrapped up Saturday afternoon.