Friday, February 4, 2011

Football for food

Today's my birthday...yada yada yada. Another year older.

I awoke to the best present a father could get - a fantastic article about my son Austin in the local Richmond newspaper. I'm very proud of him - and it sure was nice to see him get some recognition for his selfless charitable activities.

Below is the article in its entirety.

Football for food

On Super Bowl Sunday, Atlee Freshman Austin Wilson will have, for the 4th straight time, a benefit football tournament.

Published: February 04, 2011

The big game for Austin Wilson on Sunday will be his own — the Rainmaker Classic, Super Bowl Edition.

For the fourth consecutive year, he's celebrating his birthday by inviting friends to Hanover County to play football for a cause. This year, he hopes the game will make money rain down on the Central Virginia Food Bank.

Austin, now 15, started asking for donations to others instead of gifts for himself when he was in fourth grade.

"I'm so fortunate," he said. "I couldn't figure out anything I wanted for my birthday. We decided to give to charity. It was a better choice."

That first year, each child brought presents for St. Joseph's Villa. In the fifth grade, Austin donated to the Hanover Humane Society.

The next year, the first Rainmaker Classic football tournament was held at New Highland Baptist Church near the family's home in AshCreek to benefit the food bank. They've kept it going, raising as much as $1,000 one year.

The year it rained, they moved the games inside at The Ozone in the Hanover Industrial Air Park.

Austin started playing football in recreational leagues when he was 5 or 6 years old. He was a quarterback at Chickahominy Middle School and on Atlee High School's freshman team.

For the Rainmaker Classic, 24 players are divided into teams. "Everybody has a big guy, a fast guy and a quarterback," Austin said. He's been on the winning team twice.

In previous years, the Rainmaker has been held closer to Austin's birthday on Dec. 3. He was sick this year, so it was postponed.

In the NFL, Austin is a big fan of the Rams, following the lead of his father, Kriss Wilson, who's president of Superior Document Services. The whole family – including mother Karen and brother Jack — went to St. Louis before Christmas to see a Rams game. They happened to sit next to the family of the team trainer, who had a pass that got Austin into the players' dining hall after the game. Austin had bought a football helmet, and it was covered with players' signatures.

The only thing that could make this Sunday better would be if the Rams were in the Super Bowl. Since that's a bigger birthday present than a Rainmaker can expect, he's rooting for the Packers.

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