RED BANK: EX-NFL-ER BRINGS HOOPS & HOPE

Lonnie Allgood getting out the word about Hoops for Hope at the Red Bank Street Fair earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Former NFL wide receiver Lonnie Allgood is one of the select few: a Red Bank kid who had the talent and drive to live out the big league dream.

But he didn’t get there on his own, he says. Long retired from the limelight after seven years in the league, he still considers the experiences and people he met at the Community YMCA in his hometown an integral part of his character.

“I spent a lot of time at the Y when I was growing up in west Red Bank,” Allgood told redbankgreen, “and I met a lot of great role models there who really helped me while I was younger.”

Now, he’s trying to give back to the community that made him who he is by inspiring kids to live their lives the right way. On Friday night, the YMCA and Allgood’s charity foundation, Dreams for Kids, are teaming up for their first ever Hoops for Hope event, a basketball tournament featuring Allgood’s professional gridiron star friends squaring off against local hoopsters – including members of the Red Bank PBA, students from Red Bank Charter School, and Monmouth University Women’s Basketball team – all in the name of charity.

Allgood, born in North Carolina, moved with his family to Red Bank while in grammar school. He played for Red Bank Regional before moving on to Syracuse University and eventually the NFL, suiting up for the Cincinnati Bengals – who drafted him in 1976 – the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.

Allgood said he founded Dreams for Kids 12 years ago, and that he has been doing at least 20 charity events a year, including flag-football matches, golf outings and bowling tournaments.

Current and former NFL athletes who will be taking part in this tournament include: Reggie Brown, Philadelphia Eagles; Joey Porter, Oakland Raiders; Rian Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers; Darnell Stapleton, Pittsburgh Steelers; Brandon Bing, New York Giants; J’Vonne Parker, Denver Broncos; Kareem Huggins, New York Jets; Charlie Rogers, Miami Dolphins; and, Troy Logan, New England Patriots.

“What my charity and this Hoops For Hope Tournament is all about is bringing these great athletes – who are also great role models – in contact with the kids,” said Allgood, who now lives in East Brunswick. “The players in this game are smoke-free, drug-free, college-educated, and successful athletes. I think it’s important to get kids up-close to these guys, as well as promote and help the YMCA at the same time,” he added.

Rhonda Anderson, the Y’s president and CEO – and a standout hoopster at Cornell – said she’s thrilled to work with Allgood and his charity because she believes his mission is similar to hers.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that the YMCA is, in fact, a non-profit charity organization,” said Anderson. “Just like Lonnie, we’re all about promoting healthy kids, and this is a great way to raise funds and awareness for the Y and our cause. We both care so much about serving the community with our resources, and we’re happy to be able to help each other.

“Plus, don’t forget that basketball was invented inside a YMCA, so there’s a bit of history here,” Anderson said.

The tournament, which will be held at Brookedale Community College’s Collins Gymnasium in Lincroft, starts at 7 pm on Friday. In addition to the basketball games, there will be a VIP reception, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, and a halftime show featuring Zoomba dancers and the US Army Color Guard beginning at 6 p.m.

Proceeds from the event will go towards Dreams for Kids and the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, which provides local families with discounts and scholarships for Y memberships and programs.

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