The hometown boy done well returned home Sunday afternoon, hosting his annual get-together at Penn Park.
Brian Waters, No. 54 for the the National Football League Kansas City Chiefs, said he just believes in giving something back to the community that supports him.
“It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’ to my supporters. It’s just a way of giving back to my hometown that has supported me through the years,” said Waters, a 1995 graduate of Waxahachie High School who is in his ninth year of professional football.
Through the Brian Waters Foundation, the offensive lineman provides support to a number of organizations in three communities: Waxahachie, Dallas and Kansas City. The foundation also has established a scholarship program that looks to assist first-generation and lower income students attain their dream of going to college.
“It’s basically about the kids,” Waters said. “It’s about being able to help them follow their dreams as I’ve followed mine.”
As the afternoon wrapped up at Penn Park, Waters said he was pleased with the turnout - twice as many as last year, with about 600 people in attendance.
“It gets bigger every year,” he said with a smile.
This was the third annual park get-together, with attendees of all ages on hand to enjoy a variety of activities, food fun and more.
“It feels really good to do this,” Waters said. “We had bouncey-houses, water slides, the pool was open. We had a softball tournament and there was free food and drinks. We gave away backpacks.
“It was a good day,” he said, continuing to visit with people even as he shook hands and waved goodbye to those making their way from the well-attended event.
Park supervisor Timothy Jay said he appreciated Waters for what he’s done for the community.
“We want to thank him for having his event out here. These guys are very special to us, the athletes, and it’s important to us they do think about coming here and hosting events,” he said, saying he was pleased with the turnout also to visit with one of Waxahachie’s own.
Discussing his foundation, Waters said the charitable organization exists because of the support he’s received.
“It’s a group of people who have gotten behind me and followed my career. They’ve gotten behind me and donated money to it and now we can help all of these organizations,” he said.
One example of his philanthropy is a major donation of $50,000 toward the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home in Waxahachie. Another is his support of free football and basketball camps put on by GC Camps, an outreach effort of God Church.
Coach and pastor Rick Solis describes Waters as a “major blessing.”
“He’s not in it for himself. It’s not about him at all,” Solis said. “He really has a goal to deposit back into other lives because they’ve deposited into his. He is as much of a champion off the field as he is on the field. He says what he means and he means what he says.”
Solis says Waters - a several-times Pro Bowl honoree and AFC Player of the Week honoree - should ultimately see his playing days honored as a Hall of Fame inductee.
“He’s already a Hall of Famer out here with these kids and people,” he said.
Waxahachie City Councilman and former NFL player with the Pittsburgh Steelers Chuck Beatty said Waters hasn’t forgotten his community and hometown - and he’s used his position to help others.
“I’m hoping he’s an inspiration to others to go out and be successful and stil comehome and make a contribution,” said Beatty, a longtime family friend of Waters’. “Brian is making a big difference. He’s a testament to our kids to come back and make a difference.”
Waters said it was inspiration from people like Beatty, former NFL player Broderick Sargent, coach Ricky Sargent and others that placed him and former high school teammate and current NFL player Montae Reagor on the road to success.
“They let use know what could be done,” Waters said. “They let us know what we could do if we did it right.”
“They followed their dreams,” Beatty said.
“We’ve been blessed,” Waters said.
Set for summer football camp in several weeks, Waters said he’s ready to focus on football again, saying he’s prepared to play as long as he can.
In a sport whose average playing time is less than three years, Waters’ longevity can be attributed to “his skills,” Beatty said, with Waters saying he hopes - once his playing days are over - to continue in the sport, hopefully in a front office role.
In the meantime, he intends to continue using the NFL as a platform from which he can help people and influence young lives.
“I want to plant the seed in kids to go out and succeed and come back,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
E-mail JoAnn at firstname.lastname@example.org