The Rams hosted a FUNdamentals Football Camp with SoCal Special Olympics at Ventura College.
On Thursday, September 14, the Los Angeles Rams and Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) hosted its third FUNdamentals Football Camp and PPK Challenge this year at Ventura College Football Stadium. Seventy Special Olympics athletes and fifteen Special Olympics coaches learned about the fundamentals of football and participated in an evening filled with skills, drills and a Punt, Pass and Kick contest with Rams Punter Johnny Hekker.
Hekker has a history of involvement with Special Olympics dating back to the Rams time in St. Louis and he has continued his efforts with Special Olympics in southern California. This summer, he participated in the opening ceremony for Special Olympics Southern California's Summer Games and was featured in an in-store fundraising campaign that ran in approximately 350 Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores raising over $1.2 million for the SOSC athletes.
"This event means a lot to me," said Hekker. "This is the third camp in the series and I'm just so excited to see how its grown. I think football is a great sport because it really takes all shapes and sizes to contribute to a successful team and I think Special Olympics is a big proponent of that. Just a can-do attitude, sportsmanship and the love of the sport. I think football is a perfect medium to convey the exact same ideals and attitudes that Special Olympics strive for. I'm just blessed to be here and to help bring our two worlds together, the Rams and the Special Olympics."
SOSC athlete and native Angeleno, Juan Aleman, was thrilled to be learning the skills and fundamentals of football, especially from a player on his favorite hometown team. When asked about the Rams return to Los Angeles and his interactions with Johnny Hekker, Juan responded with beaming excitement and a sentiment of embracive support.
"Man, it's awesome. It's a blessing. You learn a lot from Johnny and he just has a love for people. He's a blessed guy. I know that he cares for the athletes and loves the athletes."
Director of Corporate LA Sponsorships for SOSC, Brandon Tanner, took pride in being one of the first non-profit organizations to welcome the Rams back to southern California. With hopes of continuing the SOSC athletes' engagement in flag football, he believes the Rams return to Los Angeles and their involvement with SOSC couldn't have come at a better time in preparation for next year's Special Olympic Games.
"I think it's great because we're actually introducing flag football as a demonstration sport in 2018 so this gives our athletes a sneak peek at the game of football. But it's just awesome to come out and don the Rams jerseys and get a chance to meet players like Johnny Hekker, who's obviously so thrilled to be out here and gives the athletes a chance to be a part of something and learn the skills."
The Rams will host three more FUNdamental Camps and PPK Challenges this season. The top five contestants at each of the six camps will have an opportunity to compete at the Coliseum before a Los Angeles Rams home game.