Something that never gets enough coverage in the NFL are the things that players do off the field to create positive change in their communities. Arik Armstead did exactly that in his hometown of Sacramento, hosting his inaugural charity weekend for his foundation to promote equal opportunity education.
The weekend started out with a red carpet Gala on Friday night with several 49ers in attendance to support. Richard Sherman, Marquise Goodwin, Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and former teammate Tony Jerod-Eddie were all booted and suited as well as Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, who went to high school with Armstead.
The emcee for the night was Scott Moak, the voice of the Sacramento Kings. There was a silent auction with game worn pieces from Armstead, Thompson and Charles Woodson as well as wine from a local vineyard.
Then things got even more exciting when local artist David Garibaldi performed:
Garibaldi did separate portraits of Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali and Jesus that took about five minutes each and then all went up for live auction right after he finished them. One of the best moments of the night was when Sherman auctioned off his signed jersey and added two game tickets to the package. He put on the jersey so they could say he wore it and then hugged each lady as they made bids. Once the bidding reached $5,000 the auctioneer talked him into making two packages for each of the ladies who were bidding. He obliged and just like that, he raised $10,000 for Armstead’s foundation.
The next day, in the 90 degree plus heat of Sacramento, Armstead held a youth camp where about 100 campers got coaching from himself, local high school coaches, Goodwin, Tartt, Jerod-Eddie, Witherspoon, Thompson and Raiders tight end Pharaoh Brown who joined the mix. The campers worked on skills from blocking, to catching and throwing passes and were taught the importance of working hard, teamwork and sportsmanship.
To end the weekend, Armstead held a talent showcase of approximately 15 acts of comedians, musicians and artists chosen from over 250 submissions. One of the artists was Witherspoon’s sister who is an aspiring vocalist. All artists were from the surrounding Sacramento area and the headliners, who obviously did not need to submit, were Lexy Panterra and dancer Kida The Great who both performed as finales to the show.
Armstead’s message at the end of the weekend was very eloquent and showed his passion for his cause of Equal Opportunity Education as well as his hometown of Sacramento. While you may see Armstead as one of the more quiet members of the 49ers, he is great in front of an audience:
Tonight was about raising money for something that is very important to me which is the inequality in our education system. Also being from Sacramento, I love being from this city, I rep this city as much as I can, I’m proud to be from here and I know what this city has to offer. I feel as though we are slept on, in a lot of different ways. One, being we are very talented in a lot of different fields and I feel like we don’t get the fair treatment that everybody else gets in bigger cities.
That’s one of the issues I feel that needs to change and the only way I think we can change that is by supporting each other, and loving on each other and supporting each other. Not hating on each other. If someone is doing the same thing as you, collaborate with them, don’t hate on them, support them and that’s the only way to get ahead and not be slept on. Us being slept on, we are missing a lot of opportunities. Me and one of my good friends, Shaq Thompson, talked about it when we were playing football in high school; putting this city on the map, making us well known, setting up the next generation. We wanted to put our city on the map and come out here and play as hard as we could and we did that. We have about 10-15 NFL players in the league now, all from Sacramento, and I can see that happening in other fields too. That’s just by collaborating with each other, loving on each other, supporting each other and that’s the only way to truly do it because one else really cares about us and we all we got.