Former NFL stars lend fame for Children’s Home fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2000

A stopover in Natchez gave local sports fans a chance to &uot;rub elbows&uot; with their favorite athletes, but the visit proved to be a treat for the former professional athletes as well.

Former quarterbacks Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears, Steve Bartkowski of the Atlanta Falcons, Stan Humphries of the San Diego Chargers and Browning Nagle of the New York Jets were the stars of the Celebrity Players Tour gala and auction held Monday night at Isle of Capri hotel to benefit the Natchez Children’s Home.

The gala and a golf tournament today at Beau Pr\u00E9 Country Club are a special addition to the celebrity tour’s nationwide schedule, which wraps up in Fort Myers, Fla. this weekend.

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But before sipping cocktails with gala-goers, the men found time to dine on fried chicken and peach cobbler with the children that will benefit from their efforts.

&uot;Rarely do we get the opportunity to go to the hospital or the center (our tour benefits),&uot; Nagle said of the visit to the children’s home Monday. &uot;Just to see how sweet those children are it makes what we do worthwhile.&uot;

McMahon, a father of four, said the visit to the children’s home reminded him of the constant activity of his own home.

And as for the children, &uot;they loved it,&uot; said Nancy Hungerford, children’s home director. &uot;We signed everything down to the paper napkins.&uot;

&uot;I hope (the visit) gave the players a face for what they are doing this for,&uot; she said.

Hungerford and Finley Trosclair, a Natchez resident who works with the tour, have been planning the stopover in Natchez for more than a year.

&uot;To ask (these players) to do a favor means they really do put their heart in their charity,&uot; Trosclair said.

Lee Moore, who works with Trosclair organizing the tour, said he hopes this year’s event will be the foundation for larger fundraisers in the future, one that could include many more of the 130 members on the celebrity tour.

The gala featured active and silent auctions and a raffle of autographed balls and jerseys and sports-related merchandise and trips.

Calling the tour &uot;a way to give back,&uot; Humphries encouraged those present to bid in the auction.

&uot;It’s not so much about what you see up here,&uot; he said of the display of auction items. &uot;It’s where the money is going.&uot;

Holding a program autographed by the celebrities, gala-goer Mike Smith said he never imagined such athletes would visit Natchez.

&uot;It just show what type of people they are,&uot; he said.