After former Husker and NFL Green Bay Packer Steve Warren retired from professional football, he was unsure of his career path. He had different job opportunities, but nothing was as fulfilling as impacting people’s lives in a positive and powerful way.
“I’m a big kid at heart. I love games and talking to kids… to help them think about life in a different light,” Warren told momaha.com in an earlier interview. “When I finished playing football, I didn’t know what I was going to do. My mom always said, ‘What ever you’re meant to do, it’ll fall into place.’”
Warren, 34, enjoyed working with children and helping others, so giving back to the community was a perfect fit for him.
Warren founded DREAM, Developing Relationships through Education, Athletics and Mentoring, a local nonprofit foundation that reaches out to underserved and less privileged children and families in our communities. The organization provides positive role models for young people, after-school tutoring programs and teaches life skills.
The foundation will host its seventh annual Big DREAMS weekend to raise the majority of its operation budget this Thursday and Saturday. It’ll feature a fashion show, celebrity bowling, tailgate parties and meet-and-greet gatherings with former Husker players including Prince Amukamara and Niles Paul. This year DREAM is hoping to raise $100,000 in the three-day event leading up to the Husker spring game.
DREAM reaches out to kids with unstable home environments, kids struggling with peer pressure or kids needing extra support in the classroom.
In 2006, the organization began as one after school program at Walnut Hill Elementary with 20 students and five volunteers. In 2007, DREAM donated its first vehicle through its vehicle donation program, which supplies local families in need with reliable transportation. To date the organization has donated eight vehicles to needy families. The DREAM Scholarship program also took form that same year.
In 2008, DREAM started its first group mentoring program at McMillan Magnet Middle school, and was awarded a Community Learning Center grant.
It currently serves hundreds of young people through its mentoring and after-school programs at seven different sites in Omaha.
It also has a branch in Springfield, Mo. This chapter is extremely special to Warren because it is where he was raised and it allows the organization to expand its athletic programs. Currently, DREAM has four youth basketball teams and are developing plans for after school programs, and the creation of a Learning Center that will offer career services and literacy programs.
Daniel Boyd, DREAM program director, said the most rewarding thing about the job is watching kids grow, as well as making an impact on their lives instead of being another number in a large organization.
Once children become involved in the program, the most noticeable difference is their respect for others and themselves.
“We teach our kids that ‘respect’ has 10 million different definitions,” Boyd said. “We want our students to know that there is no respect without self-respect. Respect yourself and your interests and your talents before you get others to respect you.”
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Meet and Greet and Fashion Show. The meet and greet starts at 6 p.m., and the fashion show begins at 7:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “bedtime stories” to help promote children’s literacy.
Former Husker football players Prince Amukamara and Niles Paul will attend.
It’s best to get reservations for the event. Cost is $20 per person, $25 day of event.
Celebrity Bowling Challenge at Sempeck’s Bowling and Entertainment. Cost is $50 for adults, $30 for children 10 and younger. All proceeds go to DREAM.
More than 40 celebrity guests will attend, including former Husker players, Mike and Mary from “The Morning Blend” TV show on KMTV and various team mascots.
There will be go-karts, laser tag and a video arcade as well.
Tailgate before the Nebraska spring game. 11 a.m. at the Nebraska Bookstore. There will be children’s activities, and Husker players will sign autographs.
For more information, visit bigdreamsweekend.org.
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