Titans hold 'Hometown Huddle' event at local youth center

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Linebacker David Thornton poses with students from the Martha O'Bryan Center during the Titans' Hometown Huddle event.

NASHVILLE, TN, Oct. 9, 2008 — **The Tennessee Titans and United Way of Nashville made a surprise visit to the Martha O'Bryan Center on Tuesday, Oct. 7 th as part of the league-wide Hometown Huddle effort established by the NFL and United Way in 1999.  Each of the 32 teams conduct their own version of a Hometown Huddle event in their respective communities. The Hometown Huddle event, among other initiatives, is the manifestation of the NFL and United Way's mission to bring communities together to build partnerships and leverage resources to make a measurable difference in the lives of local youth. 
 
"This event means a great deal to the kids," said John Havron, Executive Vice President for United Way.  "This is our team, this is our community.  The blending you get with United Way, the kids and the Titans organization is huge.  And for many of these kids, this is the high point of their entire year." 

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Titans Cheerleader and captain Valerie spent time along with Ashley A. and Lindsey H. teaching dance moves.

Titans Ken Amato, Lavelle Hawkins and David Thornton were joined by Titans cheerleaders Ashley A., Lindsey H. and Valerie and Titans mascot, T-Rac, to play a variety of games including basketball, pool and foosball, while the cheerleaders taught the students dance moves.

"It's rewarding for me to come here and give back," said Thornton.  "I like to come to this area and reach out to the kids, because a lot of them come from a similar background to what I had. There's a lot of potential and talent in these kids and it's good to encourage them in everything they do."

At the close of the event, the players and cheerleaders encouraged the youth to eat properly, stay hydrated and get 60 minutes of active play every day as part of the NFL's Play60 campaign.  In addition, each of the youth took home a Titans poster, notebook and yearbook.  

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Linebacker Ken Amato has participated in the Titans Hometown Huddle event since joining the Titans.

"The Martha O'Bryan Center is a special place here in Nashville," said Eric Dewey, President and CEO of United Way of Metro Nashville. "The Titans players and cheerleaders together are really making a difference in these kids' lives. 

"United Way is very proud of the partnership with the Titans.  I've met some kids in my time at United Way and they reflect on the few minutes they got to spend with a pro-athlete and all they were thinking was 'Somebody thought I was important enough to make time for me.'  It's really a special moment in their lives."

The Martha O'Bryan Center provides services to youth in the second grade through high school with after-school programs to further develop skills acquired in the classroom.  The center began as a ministry in 1894, founded by Martha O'Bryan and focused its efforts to provide food, clothing and furniture to families in need.  In the 1940s the center moved to its current location in East Nashville due to the construction of the James A. Cayce Homes. 

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Receiver Lavelle Hawkins spends time with the children on the foosball table.

"I had so much fun with David Thornton and the rest of the Titans that visited with us today," said fifth-grader Demetrius Johnson who attends neighboring East Literature Magnet. "The biggest thing I got from today was that Mr. Thornton told me that I can be anything I want when I grow up if I work hard and dream."

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