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Guytons sports festival draws crowd, thrills kids
NFL player and former BI Tiger Gary Guyton slams the ball through the net Saturday night during the coaches vs. celebrities basketball game at Bradwell Institute. The pros won 101-99. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

As part of the first-ever annual Gary Guyton Sports Festival, area children competed in an "Amazing Race" on Friday afternoon and learned the fundamentals of football, cheerleading, dance and basketball Saturday. The event drew hundreds of children and families to Bradwell Institute where the former BI Tiger-turned-NFL pro got reacquainted with the community in which he grew up.

Guyton, who just completed his second season with the New England Patriots, mingled with friends and family and played with children during the two-day festival. After Friday’s "Amazing Race" competition, Saturday’s events focused on several sports and culminated with a coaches vs. pros basketball game.

Roughly 150 kids came out Saturday morning and participated in a series of exercises and drills as Guyton, Patriot teammate Darryl Richard, Georgia Tech teammates Jason Hill and Brad Jefferson, former BI Tiger and recent University of Minnesota football player Marcus Singletary and coach Steve Shipp taught the children football techniques.

"This is something that Gary is real serious about, and anytime I can be around kids and have some fun things for them to do is great," Richard said. "I enjoy doing it and I have a good time doing it."

Richard is originally from a small town outside New Orleans and he said he’s been working with youth since he got out of high school.

"As a professional football player, I don’t get as much time to do it as I used to, but I always go back and talk to the kids when I get a chance," he said.

In the gym, the BI Tiger cheerleaders instructed future cheerleaders on tumbling techniques and dance routines.

Later in the day, Guyton enlisted the help of South Georgia Kings Founder Jessie Fleming as the group showed a crowd of about 90 kids the basics of dribbling a basketball and shooting hoops.

In the afternoon, local students tested their skills in a 3-point shooting contest. Savon Wilson won the high school division and Rashawn Samuels won the elementary division.

The grand finale came when Guyton and his group tipped-off against Tiger Athletic Director Jim Walsh Jr. and a host of coaches and teachers from Bradwell Institute, Lewis Frasier Middle School, Waldo Pafford Elementary, the AAU Walthourville Blazers and others in a basketball game.

The pros managed a 101-99 victory.

"Yeah, I brought my Lebron (James) on," Guyton said after the game. "I bet I got a double-double. I think I was close. I think I got 15-12. I’ll have to talk to the score keeper."

He and his teammates took time after the game to pose for pictures with kids and sign autographs.

Guyton said the whole weekend was humbling.

"The one thing I want to say to everybody is thank you for coming out and showing your support," he said. "I really do appreciate it. I feel the love and I always want to give the love back, so I really, deeply appreciate it. I know I didn’t get a chance to tell everybody, but I really do appreciate the support. I feel pretty good about the camp. I’m going to be here every year, and every year we are going to get bigger and better and more inspirational. I’m looking forward to next year already."

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