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Ryans, cheerleaders visit Boys & Girls Club


Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Texans Cheerleaders Ashley and Candice recently visited the Boys & Girls Club on Truxillo Street near downtown for some football, dancing and the chance to impart a positive message to local children.

Such appearances can pile on for star NFL players, but Ryans embraces the opportunity to impact Houston's youth in such a manner.

"I love to come out and do this," he said. "This is always fun to just get away from the football and just to come back out and talk to kids who really look up to you or are watching you on TV. You can use the football to influence them to be successful in life."

Ryans spent time outside throwing a football around with youngsters before giving football technique instruction to older teenaged boys. Inside, meanwhile, Ashley and Candice were at work teaching a sideline dance routine to the girls.

"When they found out they were going to learn a sideline from us, their faces just lit up and so I think they really enjoyed that, just being able to interact with us," Ashley said.

Once Ryans finished with Football 101 outside, he brought the boys in to watch the girls perform the dance with the Texans Cheerleaders. Their instructors were amazed with the results.

"I was really, really surprised," Candice said. "I thought we taught it really fast because we had a short amount of time, but they picked up, they were enthusiastic, and they had a good time."

Ryans followed up the performance by speaking to the children at length about staying in school and hanging with the right crowd. In his hometown of Bessemer, Ala., the Texans' middle linebacker grew up in similar surroundings to the children and gave the children a positive message filled with empathy.

{QUOTE}"It's very special to come out here and do this," Ryans said. "For me to grow up in the same type of community these kids grew up in, it's very special to come back out and to interact with them and just to talk to them about life and let them know that this is not the world; you can make it out of here."

"I just tell them to just stay in school and just learn how to be leaders and not to be followers. A lot of kids hang on to the group that's doing everything else, the wrong things; it's hard to venture off and do the different things, which is the right thing, so I think that's the biggest message for them."

Everett Curl, Director of Operations for Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston, was moved by Ryans' message.

"That was out of the heart," Curl said. "He's saying he came from the same environment basically that these kids are coming from, and he's telling them to dig deep inside their heart and they can make a difference with their life if they stay within their goals. They can be a professional football player, a doctor, lawyer or whatever they want to be in life."

Ryans' visit was part of a program sponsored by the Texans and Reliant Energy. Curl said the program is in its third year as sponsor at this Boys & Girls Club location for both a seven-to-nine year-old and 10-12 year-old flag football team that play on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as a cheerleading squad. The visit gave the kids a rare chance to interact with a few of the larger than life figures that they try to emulate.

"This was special for them," Curl said. "This is the second year that we've had a Texan player out, and this year was an exciting year because the Texans are winning. Not only are they winning, but they also select great people to come out like DeMeco. He interacted with our kids, our kids did some motor skills with him and he gave them a positive message."

It was just as rewarding of an experience for Ryans and the cheerleaders.

"These kids are all great, great kids," Ashley said. "They have sweet spirits and they seem like they're just kind of looking for a role model and that they want someone to look up to, and it's nice to be able to come out here and be that role model and share some positive light on them and answer any questions that they have."

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