NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey is all for raising awareness to anything he believes will help the Nashville community, and society in general.
It's why Casey and his wife, Ryann, signed up to attend the fourth annual Pearls & Pinstripes Gala on Friday night at Nissan Stadium. The event raises funds for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.
"In our field where you have a lot of stories of guys who are not treating their women with respect, I want to get involved really for that reason,'' Casey said. "And I want to be able to bring to light and show that these women are more valuable than us men, ourselves. So you have to treat them with respect, the same way you want to be treated as a man."
Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins Saturday, when the calendar flips to October.
On Friday night, the Titans will host and cover the cost of the Pearls & Pinstripes event for the fourth year in a row. Titans general manager Jon Robinson is scheduled to attend, and Mike Keith, voice of the Titans, will emcee the event. Stacie Kinder, director of cheer and mascot entertainment for the Titans, will serve as the auctioneer for the live auction.
The Titans organization will be represented by a large number of staff members, in addition to players.
Kathy Walsh, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, said last year's event raised $80,000.
Tina Tuggle, Director of Community Relations for the Titans, will accept the Tennessee Coalition's Partner of the Year Award for the second year in a row on behalf of the team on Friday night.
"The partnership with the Titans is so very important because of the influence NFL players have on young men and boys,'' Walsh said. "This is an opportunity for them to make a difference, and really change the culture around violence against women and girls. NFL players can be a great ambassador, if you will, for making these changes. So it is a beautiful partnership between our organization and the Titans, and together we are creating that change in Tennessee to stop violence."
Walsh handles domestic and sexual violence training for Titans staff, players and coaches.
"I think the Titans are really a leader in the nation in terms of stepping up to help end domestic violence,'' Walsh said. "I think they have done more than any other club in the league, because I talk to my cohorts around the country …
"The amount of training the Titans have done with players, the Titans involvement in our organization is above and beyond what other states are doing. So I am very proud of the Titans and I brag about them all the time because it is absolutely true. And that is everything from the owners to the staff to the players, everybody has gotten on board to work on raising awareness and changing the culture and I think that is terrific."
In addition members of the Titans organization, those scheduled to attend also includes Mayor Megan Barry and speaker Beth Harwell. Senator Steve Dickerson will receive the Legislature of the Year Award at the event.
The Titans are donating two game experience packages to the auction, in addition to some unique Titans-related items. An "Ultimate Tailgate Experience" for the Thursday night game against the Jaguars on October 27, a "Bowl with the Titans defensive backs" event, and a "Weekend with the Titans" item for the January 1 game against the Texans will also be up for bidding. A package is also available for the Titans-Broncos game on December 11.
Tuggle said the organization is committed to helping any way it can. Tickets for the event are $125 per person and are available at www.pearlsandpins16.eventbrite.com, or by going to tncoalition.org.
"The league has several initiatives they ask us to be involved in, and we have the opportunity to be involved in ones that are important to our local community,'' Tuggle said. "Bringing awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault is something we have organically happened upon, and we have been very happy to be involved over the last three or four years.
"Working closely with the Coalition to End Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, as well as many organizations that we partner with throughout the course of the year, is something we chose to do. To have to opportunity to be the presenting sponsor for Pearls & Pinstripes annually has been something the organization supports, and we've been really proud to be able to partner with them on.
"Ownership supports it and each year they want to know what we have a done in that space and how we can continue to grow our presence there."
Titans sponsor 4th Annual Pearls & Pinstripes Gala to benefit the Tennessee Coalition to end Domestic & Sexual Violence. (Photos: Gary Glenn)