When Capitol Police Explosive Detection K9 Handler James Davis deployed to Iraq four years ago, Our Military Kids gave his children a helping hand. Now the Congressional Football Game for Charity gives Davis, star wide receiver for "The Guards," a chance to return the favor. "Just to have an extra hand to help you like that, an extra means of support, for my son, I know it was huge," Davis told HOH during an Oct. 21 pre-game reception. "For him to have that peace of mind and enjoy football, which is something he and I do together, and to be able to have somebody provide that while I wasn't there, makes a big difference."
The "Draft Night" reception brought Davis together with the founder of Our Military Kids, one of the charities that will benefit from Wednesday night's Congress-versus-cops contest. Launched a decade ago, the nonprofit has provided more than $20 million in grants to more than 50,000 children of deployed military service members.
"We also help the children of our wounded," Co-Founder/Executive Director Linda Davidson said while sipping wine at the VIP reception hosted by the American Trucking Associations. Members of Congress posed with the Longest Yard trophy, which they've only hoisted once in the game's 10-year history, and noshed on chili and nachos with cops and former National Football League cheerleaders.
Davidson said getting the kids involved in arts or athletics "not only helps the child, but it helps the service member," especially those suffering with post-traumatic stress. "Dad or mom will leave their house, even if they're uncomfortable doing it, to take their son or daughter to practice."
For parents in combat zones, such as Davis, knowing their kids are engaged with games and recitals gives peace of mind. His wife is deceased, which gives Davis even greater appreciation for Our Military Kids' mission.
"As a single parent now, I can't even imagine what my wife was going through while I was gone," he said.
The Capitol Police Memorial Fund and A Advantage 4 Kids Inc., also receive funds raised from by game, which is sponsored by the NFL, Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the Congressional Federal Credit Union, Comcast NBC Universal, Duke Energy and Buffalo Wild Wings.
"It's going to be a good fight," said Davidson, who will be in the stands Wednesday.
Prior to the game, the NFL has put together a free pre-game clinic for children and teens. The one-hour session, led by USA Football coaches and former NFL players, includes Greater Washington Boys & Girls Clubs, Special Olympics DC and Kids Enjoy Exercise Now.
Clarification 11:40 a.m. A previous version of this article used information that was not up to date from Our Military Kids regarding grants.
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