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C.H.A.M.P. Camp is back in town

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -C.H.A.M.P. Camp is back in the Panhandle after two years away due to the pandemic and the hurricane.

The camp, being held at Mosley, is a youth football program for players, boys and girls, all the way from age six to 18. The two day event is put on by the non-profit, Heart Power, Inc., an organization founded by Champ and Stephanie Kelly back in 2010.

Champ is originally from Campbellton, Florida, where he played at Graceville before taking his game to the next level at Kentucky. From there, he played for the Lexington Horsemen. After that, he worked his way into the NFL as a scout and is now the assistant director of player personnel for the Chicago Bears.

The camp this week is not only about teaching the fundamentals of the game, but also life.

“If they can finish out here, if they can compete out here, they will be able to finish in life and compete in life, and then we will have more productive citizens in this country and in this world,” said Champ. “We are breathing into them and investing in them, and they are breathing life into us because they love this sport. They love competing, and they embody what this community stands for. They’re vibrant, and they’re energetic and resilient. We appreciate everything about them.”

Graceville head football coach, Randy McKinnie, grew up just down the street from Champ, and the two played football together in high school.

“It’s just a blessing for us to be able to do this right now,” said Coach McKinnie. “And I’m glad that everybody came out, and more should come tomorrow.”

At the camp, players go through instructional drills, take part in some 7-on-7 action, and for some of the younger players, it’s just about learning the game.

There were plenty of volunteers from all over the United States coming out to help, including coaches from NFL teams all the way to just former players who wanted to be a part.

“What’s awesome about this camp is that throughout my life, I’ve learned that modeling is the best form of mentorship and teaching,” said Champ. “So what we tried to do is surround these campers with models, successful people in business, successful people in the community, successful coaches that have been where they’re trying to go. Some of us work in the NFL. Some of us work in college. Some of us work in local businesses, but they’re here investing into these campers because it’s more than football.”

Stephanie is happy for the help.

“It’s really special. We don’t take this lightly. It’s months and months of planning, and you might see myself and Champ, but there are 75 volunteers that have flown, have driven, from all over the country to pour into these kids, and they do it just because they want to give back.”

Anyone looking to participate in the camp Saturday should arrive at the Mosley practice field before 8:30 a.m.

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